Within Mississippi State University's Cullis Wade Depot, an art exhibition titled "Crafted Identities" is showcasing the identity-aligned work of 12 artists who reside in various parts of the U.S. 

This exhibition will present these profound artistic expressions through Feb. 19 and is available to preview in-person on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition can also be viewed online in order to extend accessibility due to restrictions caused by COVID-19.

Lori Neuenfeldt, art history instructor and gallery director for the Mississippi State University Galleries of Art described the context of the exhibition and the general reasoning behind its individuality-focused title. 

"The exhibition is an invitational show where we've invited 12 artists, and I worked with Sophie Glenn to do a show where we targeted artists who were working with a variety of different materials or mediums. There are 19 pieces in the show that were created by these 12 different artists, and they come from all different parts of the United States. We've got artists who are living in North Carolina, Virginia, New York and California, so it's exciting because we wanted to show that diversity of artistic mediums and artistic styles," Neuenfeldt explained. 

Neuenfeldt delved into the theme of the show and explained the concept of identity has been largely incorporated into the show through different perceptions of life and through the symbolism in artistic materials.

"The theme of the show is 'Crafted Identities,' and it really responds to what is happening today in social events and social contemporary concerns with ideas surrounding identity," Neuenfeldt said. "We allow the artists to use their works to show how they think identities could be something that is certainly formed and impacted by influences but also identities and labels that we were born with that we consider and see within ourselves. It also speaks on how many artists will attach their own identities to the materials that they are using, and their identities are applied by certain materials in the art world."

Sophie Glenn, visiting professor of sculpture and area coordinator of sculpture, further described the multiple types of identities conveyed within the featured creations.

"All the artists address an idea behind identity  whether it is personal identity or identity of the materials that they use or even the identity of a sense of place. They all address identity in one form or another," Glenn explained.

Glenn projected her excitement about the featured diversity and expressed the importance of identifying all types of identities within such a varied society such as Starkville.

"As a curator, I am really excited to have this exhibition up because I have had a lot of ideas in mind in terms of what I wanted it to do for the community and for the student body here at Mississippi State, so I was most concerned with having a diverse group of artists being shown in this exhibition because we have a diverse student body. I feel like we have done that in this exhibition, and it makes me feel really great because I have heard positive feedback about the show," Glenn said.

According to Glenn, the show highlights a wide range of materials and types of work while headlining craft artists specifically.

Glenn believes the main purpose of the show is to show a collection of both social diversity and material diversity in terms of who is represented and what works they are simultaneously incorporating.

Michael Keyes, a sophomore majoring in communication, explained his own perspective on the exhibition after taking a look at the featured show.

"I thought there was an incredibly robust selection of interesting and experimental work in the exhibition in terms of content and technique. I really enjoyed looking at the projects that were accessible. There was one piece by Annie Evelyn which was eye-catching and to me, it reflected the vanity of social media and how nobody is perfect even though we portray it to be online," Keyes said.

Keyes said it was important to continue portraying and displaying art due to the art's intention speaking loudly to the society around it.

"I think it is incredibly important to foster new generations of artists," Keyes said. "Art is one of the backbones of what we experience in society, and I feel like art is the opposite of the establishment. Art will always go up against what is around us and what we are responsible for and who we answer to."

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