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Hattiesburg Arts Council Spotlights Two Mississippi Women Artists at Weekend Exhibition

Editor’s Note: An artwork depicted in a photo used for this article contains nudity. 

J.J. Foley sat in the studio of her Mississippi Gulf Coast home in the 1980s going through old scraps of fabric she once used to make dresses for her three daughters. Inspiration struck, and a figure emerged amid a collage of stitches and strong, almost sculptural brushstrokes: the figure of a woman, her hair in a clutch above her head, readying herself to cut it all off.

“It just felt like a part of my life was ending,” the artist told the Mississippi Free Press while speaking on what she considers her most meaningful work. She created this piece after it was time for her youngest daughter to leave home, and Foley had no clue how to process the feeling that this shift left in her. She turned to art.

As a mixed-media artist, Jacqueline Gonzalez Wooton incorporates 3D materials into her acrylic paintings to create abstract pieces that play on themes of spirituality and symbolism. Photo courtesy Hattiesburg Arts Council

“There’s a lot that’s not perfect about it, but it’s such a real emotion,” she says, pointing to the aspect of her work that unites her with many artists around the world who turn to art as a form of therapy.

This sentiment is especially true for artist Jacqueline Gonzalez Wooton, whose art will be exhibited alongside Foley’s at the Hattiesburg Arts Council’s exhibition of the two Mississippi artists on Saturday, Sept. 10. Gonzalez Wooton’s particular style, one which she calls “visual symbolic art,” is strongly rooted in this idea of emotion. She aims for her artworks to share a transactional relationship with their viewer, almost as if they are alive: “Ideally, that’s what I want my paintings to be—something that feels your soul and

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