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Local Sculptor Receives $5,000 Grant to Continue Sculpting Oxford's Art Scene

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

Earl Dismuke paints “Molly Ringwald”, a 12’ tall steel sculpture. The sculpture is currently featured at Treehouse Gallery in Oxford. Photo courtesy of Earl Dismuke.

Growing up on a farm in Winona, Mississippi, Earl Dismuke found himself secluded from his friends in the small southern town. With tools in both hands, he had to use his imagination to entertain himself by building structures. That imagination led him on the path to becoming one of Oxford’s prominent sculptors.
While attending Winona High School he applied for the gifted art program, which furthered his passion for the arts. Following graduation from the WHS program, he continued that driven passion at The University of Mississippi where he graduated with a bachelor of fine arts.
Dismuke considers himself to be an abstract expressionist sculptor using wood, steel and cast aluminum among other various objects. He said his sculptures are inspired by the day-to-day things he deals with in his life, whether it be the goals he is en route to conquer, failures he has to overcome, or the family that surrounds him.
“I have four children at home,” he said. “I never run out of inspiration.”
Sculpting His Legacy
Dismuke made his mark on the Oxford art scene, not only through his own personal works of art, but as one of the co-founders of the Yokna Sculpture Trail—a rotating public sculpture exhibit in Pat Lamar Park in Oxford, which hosts 18 large-scale sculptures.
The idea behind an art exhibit in one of Oxford’s prominent parks struck Dismuke while walking the winding pathways five years ago with his wife, Samantha. Lined with trees, the lake and foothills, he thought the park would be fitting to have local, regional and national artists’ works in a place for Oxonians to enjoy.
The Yokna Sculpture Trail—a rotating public sculpture exhibit— is located at Pat Lamar Park in Oxford, which hosts 18 large-scale sculptures. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Dismuke presented the idea to Alderman John Morgan at a yard sale, of all places. Morgan gave him advice on the process of installing such an exhibit, and he submitted a proposal to the Board of Alderman and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.
Having a collaborated approval from the city of Oxford, YAC and Ole Miss, the exhibit can now be enjoyed by Oxonians daily with installations rotating every April.
Giving Back to the Community
Early this month, Dismuke received a $5,000 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission—a state agency that serves residents of Mississippi with art programs—to continue his craftsmanship. The grant will help fund materials, equipment and expenses to attend the International Sculpture Center’s 2018 Conference.
Earl Dismuke’s “Dingbat”—sculpted from welded steel and cast iron—is currently on display at Louise Campbell Arts Center in West Point, Mississippi. Photo courtesy of Earl Dismuke.

Although he has had art shows at Southside Gallery, and currently has pieces displayed at Oxford Treehouse Gallery, he said he would love to use the materials and equipment from the grant to construct new sculptures that could be installed in the LOU community.
Attending the ISC conference will not be a new venture for Dismuke. He attended the conference in 2017, which allowed him to meet and network with fellow artists, curators and collectors.
While attending the 2017 conference, he met an artist from Peru. The connection lead him to the opportunity for his art pieces to be displayed in Lima.
As Dismuke attends the 2018 conference, he plans to continue networking with fellow art enthusiasts.
“I’m hoping to network, meet other people for other opportunities, and share what [artists] are doing here in Oxford, Mississippi,” he said.

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