>>   MS Colony's Traveling Exhibit Draws to a Close at Delta Arts
For its third time and second consecutive summer, Delta Arts Alliance has played host to The Mississippi Art Colony's Traveling Exhibition - a show derived from 24 artists from the Magnolia State or with ties to Mississippi who participated in the group's spring retreat. Juried by artist Ke Francis, the exhibition will travel next to Hinds Community College - Raymond Campus. 

Jamie Tate, Delta artist and Travel Show Coordinator for the Colony, offered, " The Mississippi Art Colony's biannual travel show has visited the Ellis Theater Gallery several times over the past few years.  These shows are selected by a juror who is most often also the instructor for the coinciding workshop.  The works entered for consideration are brought already completed and ready to hang, as opposed to being done at the workshop.  

"Our exhibits are small for the convenience of travel and are usually about 25 pieces, which we try to schedule into three different venues for each show.  An exhibit is selected at each Art Colony workshop, creating a 'Spring' and a 'Fall' travel show." Tate continued. 

"The Colony is always delighted to be included in Delta Arts Alliance's calendar of events, knowing there will be great community support and involvement. Our artists love showing their work here because the DAA show almost always results in sales! The coordinators for the Colony enjoy this stop on the tour because Rori and company are so great to work with and make it really easy! We appreciate so much the partnership we've developed with Delta Arts Alliance and look forward to showing our work in this beautiful space many more times in the future," she concluded.

Before the show moves to Raymond, we asked Delta Arts staff to pick their favorites and tell us what spoke to them the most about that piece. 

MEG FUNDERBURK, Delta Arts Bookkeeper
"The choice of colors  used are really what makes me enjoy this piece of art. The abstract lines remind me of colorful ripples in water. The white down the middle leads me to think about a path among noise." 
ARTIST: Carolyn Busenlener
PIECE: Surface Movement

NONNIE EGBUNA, Summer Resident, Robertson Scholars 
" As a young black woman, John Armistead's 'Lashanda' resonates with me on a level that I cannot fully explain. It reminds me of childhood, of home, of my angel of a mother forcing my coarse, thick hair into two pigtails, occasionally whacking me in the forehead with those colorful hair ties with the plastic balls on the ends. It reminds me of "serving face," of being cute, but sassy, of refusing to smile for pictures just to make things difficult for the photographer. It's a beautiful piece, one that gave me instant nostalgia, immediate appreciation for my upbringing, for my blackness, for my youth.
ARTIST:  John Armistead
PIECE: Lashanda

CHRIS PECOU, Graphic Design Intern
" As an artist, I get very excited to see the use of mixed media in artwork. Different paints, textures and images illustrate the different directions the art world is moving in. The geometric nature of this piece combined with the realistic portrayal of street cars reminds me of some of the works I have made. I thoroughly enjoy any piece that combines abstraction and realism, and Electric Poles was the first painting that popped out at me." 
ARTIST: Andrea Kostyal
PIECE: Electric Poles

>> Artist-in-Residence
Layla Young  Directs Summer Success in Shaw, MS

P artner Placement: Delta Hands for Hope, Shaw
(Video Credit: Robertson Scholar Nonnie Egbuna)
Always Smiling, Always Positive 
Volunteer Webmaster
Abulfaz Hajizada
(photo credit: Nonnie Egbuna)
Tell us a little about yourself, Abu. 
I am from a small country called Azerbaijan, located between Russia and Turkey. I have an older sister. I am 22 years old and a senior at Delta State, majoring in Computer Information Systems. I transferred to DSU in Spring 2016 from Oklahoma State University - Institute of Technology. This is my fifth year in the states, and I spent most of it in Oklahoma, a place I call my American home. I have a wonderful host family there who support me all the time. They even kept my room! I am an outgoing person and my hobby is smiling. That`s right, I always try to stay positive.

What motivated you to answer the call for volunteers within our organization?

Since the day I stepped onto campus at Delta State, I have wanted to be  active in the community. When I saw the post about volunteers at DAA, I immediately felt that is something I am looking for. It`s an opportunity for me to give back to the community who welcomed me here. DAA is one of the iconic organizations of the Mississippi Delta, and I am so proud to be a part of it. Being part of the DAA family is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

What have you learned about Delta Arts Alliance in your time with us?
Being here at Delta Arts and witnessing everything they do for the community is priceless. DAA is one of the backbones in the area, that keeps the arts alive. It`s constantly active in the community, and I feel like it brings life back to Cleveland. With my time here, my experiences have all been amazing and positive, and I have worked with wonderful people such as an executive director Rori. These things motivate me to give even more to the organization.

When visitors click through our website, what do you hope most they are getting from the experience? 
This is a very crucial question. As a webmaster, one of my responsibilities is to ensure that people getting the most out of their visit to our website. I am hoping that they experience all the remarkable things DAA does for this community. I know that you it is hard to encapsulate all the wonderful work DAA is doing around here, but you can at least show glimpses of it so people see what we are up to. I really hope the website is informational enough to cover all the work going around DAA.
What are your goals in your remaining time with Delta Arts?
My next goals for DAA are big. I want to build the perfect website that will contain the best user experience. My goal is to help people experience all the hard work going around DAA. It`s going to take a little time to establish that goal, but I am up for a challenge and really excited about it. My challenge is to take the DAA website to the next level!
Last question, what's next for you? Dream job, paint that picture for us. 
One of my favorite questions. My ambitions are big, I never stop dreaming. As soon as I am done with my studies, I am trying to get a job where I can put my skills into work. My dream job is to work for Google. I feel like it`s my happy place. Hopefully everything works out and I end up there. At the end of the day, if it won`t work out, I can still proudly say that I gave it all I have.

Become a member of Delta Arts Alliance.
Click here. 

SUMMER SCHOLAR, Nonnie Egbuna & MENTOR, Rori Eddie Herbison: PARTNERS in CRIME

from a SUMMER

For context: I am writing this from my desk, with natural light flooding in from the three windows that halfway surround me, reminding me constantly that there is brightness, life and boundless energy in this place...this place that has been my home for the past eight weeks. 

Sonder's album is playing in the background-smooth and vibey, just what I need on my penultimate day here at Ellis Theater. Every several minutes, my laptop dings with a new text message from Rori, complete with mirthful hashtags and dripping sarcasm that seems to be her native tongue, and has become my second language. 

It's hot, by anyone else's standards. I have turned off the air up here, as I always do within one hour of arriving. But I'm comfortable. I'm home.
Rori was careful in asking (a.k.a., telling) me to write these "parting words." She called me to her office and presented the idea in soft and caring,  almost-mom-voice: "Would it make you too emotional to type up some closing words? I'm thinking about including it in From the Middle." 

I obliged, because I always oblige. This is Rori we're talking about.
So that's where I'll start. With Rori. Because without her, this summer would not have been nearly as transformative as it has been. She has been my mentor, my mother, my friend, my partner-in-crime, and the angel (and the Blue Devil... ha, ha) on my shoulder, reminding me that I, like her, am badass, and that I am worthy of the world so long as I am willing to work for it. 

And she surely did make me work for it. My first day on the job, she handed me a list of objectives that I was to complete before leaving, and she has been adamant about me crossing things off of this list each and every week. 

She's a boss, to put it simply. Hers is a powerful womanhood, raging and fierce, blonde and sometimes pink and sometimes purple. It is also nurturing, taking the time to listen and to remind everyone to slow down and breathe and, if necessary, to set the task aside for now and come back to it in the morning.

If there is one thing that my time with the Delta Arts Alliance has taught me, it is ownership of my work. Rori did not hand me the list of objectives with instructions underneath each one; instead, she gave me the freedom to incorporate my passions and talents into nearly everything that I did. Videography was not necessarily meant to be a part of this job, but here I am, two months later, with a bigger and better portfolio than I had when I started.

Not only have I grown as an artist in my time here, but I have also found a regenerated appreciation for art in its many forms, for its many purposes. I believe in the power of art to create social change, to empower, to create space and opportunity for social mobility. I believe in art not as an imitator of life, but as an expression of life itself. Where there is art, there is power and there is progress and there is purpose.

In two days, I will be leaving Cleveland, Mississippi-this beautiful place of warmth and welcome, of insatiable mosquitos and overwhelming humidity, this newfound home of mine-holding close to my heart the time that I have spent at Delta Arts Alliance, the bond that I have formed with Rori, and that which I have always known but is clearer to me now than it has ever been:
Art is my purpose.
Until next time, Cleveland. 

Nonnie Egbuna
Rising Sophomore, Duke University
Robertson Scholars
Leadership Program
Summer Resident