By Alyssa Schnugg
Artist Lee Harper has recreated old Oxford in her new book, “Tiny Oxford,” which is filled with photographs of miniature replications of places that may be gone now, but still remain in the memories of many Oxonians.
Her first miniature, the Hoka Theater, was a big success at last year’s Yoknapatawpha Art Council’s annual Ornament Auction.
“Ron Shapiro had passed away that year, and I thought making a little replica of the Hoka would be a great addition to the auction and hopefully, raise money for them,” Harper told HottyToddy.com recently. “It got a huge response with people retelling of their adventures back when the Hoka was in full swing.”
From there, several people commissioned Harper to create other miniature pieces of old Oxford.
“I realized all but one [miniature] was no longer with us, and so it might be fun to put them together in a little book with a short write-up on each one,” she said.
Harper has been painting most of her life and started making miniatures close to 13 years ago. Her first, major miniature model series, “History of Bones,” debuted in 2017.
The project first started as a way to entertain her son and other children in her family during Halloween and give them a “funny macabre version” of the Elf on the Shelf Christmas tradition.
She and her husband Andy and son, Ben, have lived in Oxford since late 1999. Andy runs South Docs – the documentary studies department at the University of Mississippi, while Ben is a sophomore at Sewanee University.
Harper said she likes to think of her book, “Tiny Oxford,” as a way to preserve the history of Oxford. It’s a book that anyone who ever watched a late-night movie at the Hoka, danced on the tables at the Gin or admired the stick fence of Collie Rogers would enjoy.
“My favorite piece is Ms. Collie Rogers’ stick fence yard,” Harper said. “As someone who makes things, I really appreciated the effort it took to make it by hand and have it painted year-round. It was huge. She also had tons of purple flowers bloom in her yard in the springtime that looked incredible against the white fence. It took me forever to replicate that fence, but I knew I was going to make it for the collection. It’s for sure an old Oxford landmark.”
“Tiny Oxford” can be purchased for $20 at Square Books in Oxford or online at Harper’s website, www.tinyhistorystudios.com where customers can have something inscribed inside the book.