Hattiesburg is home to several murals and outdoor sculptures, so while our official public art program was born in late 2014 when HAPA was founded, there are many wonderful artworks exhibited locally that pre-date HAPA.
Since our inaugural sculpture show in 2015, HAPA has purchased and/or commissioned three large outdoor sculptures for our permanent collection.
James Davis currently serves as studio technician at The University of West Georgia, a position he previously held at The University of Southern Mississippi. He earned a BFA in sculpture at Southern Miss and MFA from East Carolina University. Davis has exhibited in five countries and has works in private and public collections throughout the South. In addition to sculpture, Davis builds furniture and does custom metal and woodwork. In 2013 he was selected as one of ten artists to participate in the Stone, Wood, Iron International Sculpture Symposium in Heredia, Costa Rica. In 2014 he was one of two artists featured by Festival South, Hattiesburg’s multi-genre arts festival. His most recent commission, in 2016, was a monumental sized stainless steel work for the city of Kenner, LA.
“Dugan’s Riff” is from Davis’s Visual Jazz series. “I was looking at some leftover rings from another sculpture when the idea of improvising on a theme came to mind,” he explained. “The ring provided structure, essentially my melody, and as I worked on the various pieces, I allowed for spontaneity, thinking of it as chord structure. The end result is my ‘riff.’” This work is dedicated to Davis’s grandfather and namesake James Dugan Johnson.
Jennifer Torres was born in Queens, NY, and spent her childhood in Teaneck, NJ. She did her first four years of studio training as a teenager at the Art Students League in New York City and earned her BFA at Cooper Union, also in NYC. After graduating from Cooper, she trained as a fine cabinetmaker in New England and then earned an MFA in Sculpture at the University of Georgia. Torres currently lives in Hattiesburg where she is a professor of sculpture and ceramics at The University of Southern Mississippi. Her works have exhibited throughout the country and can be seen at www.jentorres.com.
“Cloud Music for Hattiesburg” was commissioned by HAPA in celebration of the many musical offerings available locally. “My Cloud Series of works,” Torres explained, “is meant to convey that feeling of lightness present in clouds and also the way we see all kinds of images in clouds as they move across the sky.” She strove, in this work, to create an obvious musical instrument form that still retains the ability to shift and change for different viewers.
Matt Amante is a graduate of Western Michigan University and earned an MFA in sculpture at East Carolina University. He currently resides in Winterville, NC, and teaches at Pitt Community College. His works are included in permanent collections throughout the Southeast and can be seen at www.mattamante.com.
“I work within a large range of materials and scale,” Amante said, “but many of my ideas are influenced by my interest in nature and eastern philosophy.”
This work looks perfectly at home on the lawn of the former Hattiesburg American building. HAPA purchased it to celebrate the proposed conversion of the old newspaper offices into a community arts space. We applaud the Hattiesburg Arts Council for this initiative and agree that the rebirth or “Reincarnation” of this long vacant space is a worthwhile endeavor.
Many thanks to sculptor Jason Kimes for graciously allowing us to use a likeness of his work "The Spike that Binds." This piece was purchased by the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission, Hattiesburg Arts Council, and Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association in 2010, prior to HAPA’s founding, and installed at the Historic Train Depot after it won the People’s Choice Award at the All Aboard Sculpture Exhibition curated by local artist Erik Eaves. Jason tells us that the work, popularly referred to around town as Spike Man, is a reference to the importance of the train system in a developing society, particularly how it bound groups of people that were otherwise disconnected, especially during the days before the automobile became ubiquitous.
We love the work and its reference to ties that bind. We think public art does the same, don’t you?