A new exhibit, “Lifescapes,” featuring the oil paintings of Marshall Polson, will be on display at MGCCC Harrison County Campus’s Fine Arts Gallery March 7 through April 1.
Marshall Polson, a native of Ridgeland, Mississippi, majored in art at Mississippi College, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in art education in 2003 and his Master of Arts degree in 2009. He has taught art in public schools since 2003 and has lived in Gulfport since 2009, where he teaches art at Gulfport High School.
Though the famous painter John Singer Sargent is a big source of inspiration, Polson says, “My biggest influences have been my art teachers and friends.” He credits his art instructors in both high school and college with influencing him to draw and paint landscapes. He said he and fellow Gulfport High art teacher, Chad Brown, “are always bouncing ideas off each other.”
Polson is known for depicting portraits and landscapes from his everyday life and experiences. His intimate portrayals give reverence to the quiet, everyday moments of life that people might overlook in the course of a busy day, such as his daughter having a tea party or a pelican flying low over the Gulf.
“Artists often work from life as they observe it around them, and I am a very quiet person… probably to a fault,” he admitted. “Honestly, it is the quiet moments of life that I enjoy the most, so I’m not surprised that that comes out in my work.”
Polson also uses unique lighting techniques that he researched in college and are inspired by artists like Henri Matisse, Edward Hopper and Richard Diebenkorn. “I remember reading how each of them combined indoor and outdoor spaces in their paintings. They all did scenes of people indoors near big windows where you could see a lot of landscape,” he said. “I liked that, and I liked the fact that if you had a person near a window it would give bright lighting and clear directional lighting. It would create strong shadows. A lot of the Baroque artists used strong directional lighting, too. I think you can see that some in my still-life paintings.”
Marshall deliberately injects a touch of whimsy into his works, such as using dinosaur toys as still life props. “I am often guilty in life of being too serious. However, people who know me well know I do have a sense of humor,” he said. “C.S. Lewis once said the Christian should not be perpetually solemn. He must play. I think that is part of it.”
He looks at his works as being a way to remember his childhood. “I know that I drew dinosaurs as a child, and I loved doing it. Believe it or not, sometimes we can even twist painting into something that we hate,” he said. “The dinosaurs remind me that before I knew as much about what I was supposed to be painting, I just enjoyed making art, because art is enjoyable.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public. The Harrison County Campus is located at 2226 Switzer Road, Gulfport. The gallery is located in the fine arts building, building D.
Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.