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Art Class Uses Historic Square for Inspiration

Rachel McCaslin outside of YaYa’s Frozen Yogurt. Photo by Talbert Toole.

The school year isn’t over yet for some students. Art professor Philip Jackson’s May intersession gathered throughout the Oxford community for their ‘Plein Air’ painting class to capture the transition of lighting on the buildings that line The Square.
From the corner of YaYa’s Frozen Yogurt to the Courthouse, students were spotted working diligently on their art pieces.
Jackson said this is the only class he teaches where students are immersed in the landscape of Oxford for 8 hours a day for a two week period.
“The students have to negotiate different lighting conditions,” Jackson said. “As the light changes, [students] have to adapt the pallet, so their color is always changing.”
The exterior classroom setting teaches students a sense of gesture of what each one is seeing as the lighting is changing throughout the day, Jackson said.
The students’ works are a combination of moments observed throughout the two week intersession.
“It’s kind of great for [students] to get a chance to deal with an environment that is continuously changing,” Jackson said. “Whereas in the studio we can set something up and it stays the same for an unlimited amount of time.”
Recent graduate Rachel McCaslin is taking the intersession to finish her degree requirements.
“It’s really awesome because we get to come to class every day and apply what we learn from the last day,” McCaslin said. “You become a better painter.”
Instructor Philip Jackson in front of the Courthouse on The Square. Photo by Talbert Toole.

As in previous intersessions, Jackson invites a visiting artist who co-teaches the second week of the session. This session’s artist is Brian Rego, who obtained his MFA in Painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
“It’s a rare experience because usually when [the class] has a visiting artist they come in for a day or two,” Jackson said. “But students really get to immerse themselves as an artist. We critique their work every morning and give them a goal at the end of the day to think about.”
Jackson’s students range from beginners to those who have graduated, such as McCaslin.
“[Students] are all coming with such an intensity and appreciation for what we are doing [in class],” Jackson said. “So, it’s a really exciting class with great energy.”
The Plein Air intersession is hosting an art show this Thursday, May 24 at the Southside Art Gallery on The Square starting at 6 p.m. Rego will be giving a lecture followed by a reception.
Last year’s show hosted more than 180 student pieces from the intersession. Jackson said he is expecting more this year because this class is the biggest yet.

By Talbert Toole, associate editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at talbert.toole@hottytoddy.com.

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