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Turnipseed enjoys new ground with her paintings

Whitney Turnipseed’s art might be created in a small space in Meek Hall, but it will travel far and wide.

The 29-year-old University of Mississippi graduate student and Avon native not only shows her work at galleries around town, but she also recently participated in a show in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Turnipseed starts her thesis in the fall, almost finished with a Mater of Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting, and now is the time to really hone in on her craft. She also has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in drawing from Mississippi State University.

“I started out as a surrealist, so my art always has a tinge of abstraction,” she said. “Here lately I’ve been experimenting with new grounds, so I’m painting on rawhide — goat, cow, different thicknesses.”

“The few things that show in pretty much everything I do are a layering of materials, I use a lot of found materials, paper, objects, sanding through, painting over. There’s also always a lot of repetitive line work. I really like patterned papers and maps, schematic drawings — those always find a place in every piece.”

She has a long list of places she’s shown her paintings at, including Southside, and she relishes being in Oxford and the local arts scene.

“There’s been a lot of local (shows), and a lot lately,” she said. “That’s a good thing about being here. I’m afforded a lot of connections, opportunities and mingling within the art world in Oxford and throughout the state.”

Her most recent show was “Fat Phobia: A Body Research Project” in Salt Lake City, and she said it was a great experience to travel out there and be honored among other women internationally.

“The body image issue has always been intense for me just growing up in the South and always having weight problems,” she said. “And drawing a line between being a Southern woman, but you have to be a strong Southern woman, and that entails a dizzying amount of jobs that you have to be good at. This was an all-woman’s show, so to be picked out for an international woman’s show was really amazing.”

Art background

Turnipseed experiments with various art forms and doesn’t really have a favorite method or style at this point, but she does have a solid background in art, thanks to her grandmother and great-grandmother.

“Growing up, she taught me everything she knew,” she said about her grandmother. “She had a panting degree from Hendrix, and every Christmas, birthday, anytime she bought me gifts, it was always art supplies. When she moved into an assisted living home, she gifted me all of her arts supplies she accumulated over her lifetime.”

For the future

Turnipseed is looking to the future and what to do after graduation. She’s been putting out feelers to see what museum, gallery or collegiate teaching jobs are available.

She taught middle school math and art history prior to starting graduate school, and also coached softball for 10 years. Teaching is carrying over into her graduate school experience also. She led a beginning painting class at UM and will also teach color theory this fall.

She’s not sure where she’ll wind up after graduation — it just depends on where the jobs are.

“Mississippi will always be home,” she said. “I love Oxford. If a job came up here that was good I would really hesitate to turn it down. The arts community is amazing here. There’s definitely the ability to have a career here and a home here and get your work out elsewhere.”