- Associated Press - Sunday, May 3, 2015

HORN ISLAND, Miss. (AP) - Horn Island, just off the coast of Jackson County, is a long, thin island between the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. It’s one of the barrier islands that have given protection to the coastline for centuries. It’s deserted except for the flora and fauna that naturally thrive on its sandy shores.

The island was a favorite refuge of artist Walter Anderson, a place where the encroachment of civilization could be shaken off and replaced with immersion in absolute nature, a man amid the elements.

For 30 years, students, faculty and alumni of the Memphis College of Art have traveled to Horn Island each spring to experience what many consider Anderson’s retreat and main source of inspiration.

This year, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art is recognizing those three decades through an exhibit, “A Halcyon Place: Horn Island 30,” which showcases works connected to the 2014 trip as well as older pieces.

Each work “was created by participants in direct response to the 10-day trip to the island. It is a reminder of and tribute to its source, original impetus and namesake of this museum, Walter Anderson,” Remy Miller, dean and vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of fine arts, wrote for the exhibit.

Works are completed either on the island during that 10-day odyssey or within a certain time afterwards, said Doug Myatt, WAMA curator.

Their time on the island is primitive; fresh water, food, shelter all must be brought along, and insects, heat and exposure to the elements are part of the experience.

The exhibit will be up through May, which includes the time the 2015 participants will arrive for their trip to the island.

“I really love this show,” Myatt said. “Not only are they wonderful works, they are a wide range of media: sculpture, oils, watercolor, photography, drawings, metal work.”

Works include pieces by Bob Riseling, founder and director of the Horn Island experience for more than 20 years; assistant professor of foundation studies and design arts Don DuMont, who is the director of the Horn Island program; and Coast artist Bill Nelson, who assisted Riseling in starting the program and is longtime participant in the trips. There also are works by Walter Anderson and Mac Anderson, his brother.

Exhibit works are as diverse as their creators’ personal experiences and impressions, from whimsical to disturbing, peaceful to riotous, but each presenting its own interpretation of the island’s wild beauty.

“I really would love to see this become an annual thing,” Myatt said.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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