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Lallah Perry - A Retrospective
(in her own words)
Looking backward, dealing with people, places, and impressions over the last 50 or so years...  It will clearly be a mixed bag.  Between 1950 and 2000, I had children, and they grew up, and I went into college teaching.  Situations, relationships and geography changed.
To experience life and its’ changes, from the philosophy of Social Realism taught at Auburn in the 1940’s – Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, etc. and, more influentially, through the innovative explorations of the cubists and abstract-expressionists and impressionists has been an exciting trip.
I have had the advantage of being able to study with outstanding teachers such as Marie Hull and Homer Casteel, in Jackson, and at Allison’s and Mississippi Art Colonies with Alvin Sella, Howard Goodson, Moe Brooker, Hugh Williams, Edith Frohock, and many others, over the years.  In the venture, I have explored many media – oils, watercolor, acrylic, and mixed combinations; enjoying the process of making pieces, and making comments, rather than recording events and scenes.
Additionally, some ideas seem to ask for certain media.  As powerful an event as the Tienamin Square Uprising seemed to demand a violent composition – with obvious references to Picasso’s Guernica included.
I did the “Watercolor Quilt” when I was doing fabric projects and teaching watercolor classes – pulling it all together, as it were – it’s a sort of sketchbook – scrapbook.
My first painting was in oil on canvas, but obviously has taken other routes in the interval, especially with the introduction of acrylic paint, and the possibilities of mixed media as a result – much easier with acrylic.
I’ve always been interested in fabrics.  Learning to embroider and sew at a young age.  While teaching at Delta State, this led into making fabric collages and weaving – especially in the form of tapestries.  That’s another hands-on process, more in my control than the loom’s.
I remind myself of that line from “Don Quixote”, where he “Jumped on his horse and rode madly off in all directions”.
One of my paintings hung in the Smithsonian Museum as part of an exhibition of the Washington Watercolor Society; one, in the (New Orleans) World’s Fair Exhibit. One, through a program sponsored by the U.S. State Department, hung in the American Embassy, in Rabat, Morocco.  Others have been part of shows in the Delgado Museum, New Orleans, and the High Museum in Atlanta, GA, The Brooks Museum, Memphis, TN, and The Society of the Four Arts, West Palm Beach, FL.  The paintings have been to interesting places, some of which I have also visited.
Some now reside in the permanent collections of the Mississippi Museum of Art, The Meridian Museum, Deposit Guaranty Bank, Trustmark Bank, Delta State University, Meridian Community College, Peat-Marwick, and numerous other public and private collections, from here to England. (No – I haven’t been there, either)  - Lallah Miles Perry
 
Lallah Perry is a Mississippi artist and retired educator whose long career of teaching art paralleled her painting career as she taught in the Choctaw Indian Schools around Philadelphia, at Delta State University and Meridian Community College.  Now in her late seventies, there is a wealth of knowledge of the history of our state wrapped up in this woman.  She once said to me in a letter:
 “I am one of those who can remember exactly where I was when the news of Pearl Harbor came; Heard F. D. R.’s Fireside Chats; Heard Edward VIII leave “For the woman I love”, Winston Churchill and M. L. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech… and Philadelphia.  Too much history – but history needs to be remembered.”

 

 Lallah Perry has always been her own woman.  She has a sketchbook of drawings she did during the trial in Philadelphia following the death of the three civil rights workers.  Already singled out as “…not the right kind of people,” she was extremely brave to sit in that courtroom documenting the events through her drawings.

 

Following the 1963 fire, which destroyed Alison’s Wells, a spa in Madison County, which was home to the Alison’s Art Colony established in 1948, Ms. Perry was instrumental in reorganizing the group as the Mississippi Art Colony in Feb. 1964.  She served as its first interim director and introduced the custom of making the works by colony artists into a traveling exhibit.  Long-time friend with Marie Hull, they painted together often.

 

Ms. Perry has exhibited widely in the state and in such venues as the Smithsonian Museum (as part of an exhibition of the Washington Watercolor Society), the American Embassy in Morocco and The World’s fair in New Orleans.  Her paintings have hung in the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Delgado Museum in New Orleans, the High Museum in Atlanta, GA, The Brooks Museum in Memphis, TN, and The Society of the Four Arts in West Palm Beach, FL.

 

Perry’s style has evolved during the decades.  In the 1960’s her primary stimulus was “mood”, her work expressionistic.  Flat planes of bright color, semiabstract but representational, and painted with broad, energetic brushstrokes, characterize later work.  She is in the collections of the Mississippi Museum of Art, The Meridian Museum of Art, the Meridian Community College, Delta State University, Mississippi University for Women, and others.

 

 

 
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