Posted in Arts Experiences, GAP News, Greenville Public School District, Professional Development

Fall Field Trip Feature – H.C. Porter’s Mississippi


From August 5 – September 16th, the Greenville Arts Council will be exhibiting work by Mississippi native in the Rodger D. Malkin Gallery. What does this mean for you? Field trip opportunities galore! H.C. Porter’s work was inspired by the impact of Hurricane Katrina on Mississippi and the Southern region of the United States. We can make custom field trips for your class or school, Monday – Friday while the exhibit is hanging.

Interested in having your students participate in an art lesson while they’re here? We can coordinate that for FREE for our partnership schools or for $5 per student for any schools in the area interested in attending!

Want to know how it will fit your classroom? We will have a teacher’s guide that shows provides example lessons to make direct connections to the Mississippi Frameworks for teaching available August 1st!

Interested in scheduling a field trip for your class? Contact Megan Hines at the Greenville Arts Council by email or at 662-332-2246.

H.C. Porter’s Artist Statement from her website:

“There are three elements in my work; painting, printmaking, photography, and what emerges is the relationship.”

Because my characters exert their own power and individuality with such force, each piece is charged with emotion. That emotion becomes apparent the moment you seek it out. You realize my characters have gone through a volume of experiences. The emotionality, enthusiasm and Southern experience apparent in the expression of my characters; sometimes bleak and passive eyes; others, direct and questioning stares are a reflection of myself and my relationship to that person. My work is a question of identifying with my characters – you must respond to their realness – to what they bring to you and what you can bring to them. That’s when the communication takes place. The viewer holds the final step in completing the piece – to respond to us both.

“H.C. Porter depicts people in ordinary settings; a woman shelling peas, a man sitting on his front porch, kids playing basketball.” The artist’s statement reads, “… my characters have gone through a volume of experiences.” The same is true of Porter herself. Her work has attracted noteworthy attention for its quality and sometimes controversial content.

Her mixed-media paintings begin as black and white portraits of her Millsaps Avenue neighbors, where she has been working since 1987. Using a printing technique called serigraphy, Porter screens her photographs onto paper and begins painting. It is an unusual process but it’s one that reflects a way of life. Beneath the vibrant colors are the black and white images that begin each piece.
” The work I do won’t change the lives represented in my paintings but it does change the viewers who live with my work. That’s what’s important to me.”

Her unique style began in December of 1992. “The neighborhood kids have always been an ever present presence around my studio”. Early impromptu coloring sessions triggered the idea for “Avenue for Art”, a grant-funded neighborhood art project teaching the importance of art, how to appreciate it and the opportunity to express their creativity through art. For five summers Porter worked with the kids, ages 8-12, taking photographs of many of them which she would later find creeping into her work.

You wouldn’t believe how many people expect me to be a black male. When they see my work and the name H.C. Porter from Jackson, Mississippi, they just expect me to be someone else,” says Porter. As Mississippi’s Pulitzer prize winning author, Eudora Welty, has written of her own photographs taken in Mississippi in the 1930’s, “…the photographs of black persons by a white person may not testify soon again to such intimacy.” However, it is evident from Porter’s work that she is “…moving through the scene openly and yet invisible” because she is “part of it, taken for granted” as Ms. Welty was in her years.

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The mission of the Greenville Arts Council is to promote the rich cultural heritage of the region and stimulate and encourage cultural activities, arts appreciation, arts education, and the creative works of artists. Some of the responsibilities that help define the Greenville Arts Council as the primary promoter of the arts in our area include offering art classes to children and adults, organizing community events, presenting an ongoing series of free exhibits featuring visual artists from the area and the state, and coordinating educational programs which teach arts-integration in local schools. The Greenville Arts Partnership between the Greenville Arts Council, the Greenville Public School District and our three community arts partners, Delta Center Stage, Delta Symphony Association and the Delta Children’s Museum, is focused on full arts integration in the GPSD elementary schools. Plentiful research documents the value of the teaching in and through the arts to help students understand core academic concepts on a deep level. The partnership was the first in the state of Mississippi accepted into the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program in 2003, joining over 100 other partnerships between school districts and arts organizations across the country. The partnership provides professional development for teachers, arts experiences for students and resource and referral on arts integration issues. Professional development has been provided in two ways, through workshops with Teaching Artists from the Kennedy Touring Roster and grade-level and/or discipline-specific professional development with our local staff. We present a series of model demonstration lessons to teachers in grades K to 6, demonstrating connections between Partnership free arts programming and required state frameworks. The partner arts groups present a series of live performances allowing each elementary child in the GPSD to attend at least once each year. The groups work with the Arts Council staff to develop accompanying curriculum-based educational material for distribution to teachers prior to each performance. Over the years, we have succeeded in providing basic arts integration training district-wide as well as in-depth professional development to allow groups of teachers to increase their level of mastery.