Southside Gallery on the Square is showcasing the works of two Mississippi artists until Sept. 8. The artists, Jerrod Partridge and Jonathan Kent Adams, have created pieces that address different aspects of the human experience.
Partridge’s show is titled “A Eudaimonic Search,” and the paintings depict domestic scenes and vibrant flowers. The term “eudaimonia” comes from Aristotle’s philosophy of ethics, in which it is defined as human flourishing and prosperity.
“I am interested in the poetic beauty of the light and color in these paintings, but at the same time, they portray excess,” Partridge said in his artist statement. “Human flourishing is often connected with having more than we need.”
In previous works depicting piles of dishes and other household clutter, Partridge found ways to change his perspective regarding the stresses of working from home to one in which he can find beauty.
“When your studio is in your house and you have young kids — I needed to find an appreciation for this kind of chaos of everyday life for myself as much as (I was) trying to make a statement with it,” Partridge said. “How can I appreciate these dishes in the sink? Is there some sense of form and organization and beauty in this thing that really is a burden that I have to go deal with?”
Partridge’s depictions of flowers are inspired by his wife’s career as a florist and by his experiences of having these plants as a constant part of his environment. In “Morning Light on Spanish Moss,” Partridge focuses on a sweeping image of a tree’s branches cutting along the side of a house in Ocean Springs.
“Human flourishing can be something simply beautiful, like flowers, or something not obviously beautiful, like a pile of clothes,” Partridge said. “As a practicing artist, I never had a strong drive to paint pretty flowers, but they are a very prominent part of our life … I started doing a series of paintings of some of my wife’s arrangements because they felt … sincere and authentic.”
Partridge doesn’t see his work as the complete culmination of eudaimonia but as a beginning to his exploration of the concept.
“Domestic scenes of excess, natural beauty and graphic symbolism by no means fully express the breadth of the concept of eudaimonia, and that’s why this is a search,” Partridge said. “(My) search (is) not for an end but for flourishing and prosperity in the process.”
Partridge received his master’s degree from the New York Academy of Art and was a recipient of the 2011-12 Visual Arts Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission. He was named distinguished alumnus of the year for the Mississippi College Department of Art in 2017. He currently calls Ocean Springs home.
Adams’ show is called “Myth of the Beast” and has a theme of moving past insecurity.
For the majority of his life, Adams felt he was a “beast” among men, and his show challenges the ideas of protecting one’s “identity, social constructs and self confidence,” according to the Southside Gallery’s website.
“Growing up in Mississippi and realizing I was gay, I would hear people talk about that in church,” Adams said. “I internalized what I saw and heard around me growing up, and it’s what led to me believing I was a ‘beast.’”
Many of the paintings feature Adams’ own silhouette.
“In the series, my silhouette is repeated throughout, and within that silhouette, I’ve tried to communicate that my mind can go somewhere else besides the physical,” Adams said. “For instance, in a few paintings, my silhouette becomes the sky. I’m saying that it doesn’t matter what’s going on around you — your identity depends on what’s within you.”
In his oil painting “The Myth in Flames” Adams depicts a tent on fire alone in a field, mimicking a break towards freedom.
“Adams is one of the more popular artists in Oxford,” Southside Gallery director Wil Cook said. “I’ve been interested in exhibiting his work for some time and was pleased when he agreed to exhibit with us in a group show earlier this year. This will be his first featured exhibit at the gallery, and we’re very excited.”
Adams received his bachelor’s degree in painting from Ole Miss in 2014 and studied at the Art Student’s League of New York in 2012. He lives in Oxford.
There will be a reception with the artists from 5-8 p.m. on Sept. 6, at Southside Gallery.