If you missed it the first time, now’s your chance to view the 46th annual showing of the region’s oldest juried art competition: the Meridian Museum of Art Bi-State Competition.

The downtown Meridian museum’s annual recognition and celebration of the outstanding artistic achievements by artists who are current or past residents of Mississippi and Alabama, the competition offers more than $3,000 in awards and prizes. After this year’s opening in May, the Bi-State exhibition was temporarily placed on hold to accommodate the joint venture with The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX), “Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South.” An exhibition comprised of 56 photographers’ visions of the South over the first decades of the 21st century was featured at both downtown Meridian venues simultaneously.

With the culmination of “Southbound” at the end of September, MMA officials have been busy reinstalling works included in this year’s Bi-State, MMA Executive Director Kate Cherry said.

Joe Morzuch, an assistant professor in the Painting Department of Art at Mississippi State University, is this year’s winner of the coveted Alliance Health Center Best of Show Award, which includes a $1,000 cash award and an exhibition at the museum in the fall. Morzuch, a self-described “still-life painter interested in the visual and communicative potential of objects cast-off, discarded and overlooked,” won the overall titled with “Broken Pallets with Flags,” an oil on canvas on panel.

This year’s honorees also include:

• Highest Distinction — Michelle Jones, “Sidewinder,” gouache, watercolor and acrylic on paper

• Distinction —Thomas Nawrocki, “Zig Zag 6,” color calligraphy print

• Highest Achievement — Hannah Lewis   Campbell Hill, lithography

• Achievement — Abreeza Thomas, “Feel No Evil,” color linocut and monoprint

• Highest Merit — Debra Eubanks, “Riffe,” Indigo, linoleum block relief print

• Merit — Tiffany V. McPeak, “I’ll Own it in Two Years,” mixed media

Artist and educator Stephanie Smith served as juror for this year’s exhibition. A senior lecturer at the University of West Georgia, where she teaches drawing, 2D design, printmaking and book arts as well as serves as gallery director, Smith juried the submitted artwork through a comprehensive process of initial judging by digital image. Since the juror could not travel to review actual works on-site at the museum for awards selections, a virtual exhibition was filmed for her.

Works in the annual exhibition range from the traditional to the avant-garde and encompasses drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media, photography, and printmaking. Cherry described this year’s body of works as “extraordinary in many ways,” beginning with the number of entries.

“Three hundred twenty-six entries were submitted for the competition, with 65 works selected for the exhibition. This is the highest number of entries, since I became the director in 2008,” Cherry said. “It was an extremely competitive show to jury.”

Also, for the first time in more than four decades, voting for the recurring juried exhibition was not conducted at the downtown Meridian museum. Due to the mandatory social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s MMA Bi-State was published as a virtual exhibition on the museum’s Facebook page.

Selected artists for the 2020 MMA Bi-State Competition and Exhibition include: Mississippi: Jill Hammes, Bailey; Maria Hughes, Baldwyn; Pat Brown, Cleveland: Rick Anderson, Brittany Davis and Randy Hayward Jolly, Clinton; Leslie Burns, Robert Gibson, Susa Nawrocki, Thomas Nawrocki, Columbus; Joely Corban, Diamondhead; Mark Brown, Ellisville; Euphus Ruth, Greenville; Abreeza Thomas, Alex Townsend, Andrea Kostyal, Carolyn Norton, and Joan McRaney, Hattiesburg; Addie Louis, Anne O’Hara, Melissa Thorson of Jackson; Gary Howse, Lauderdale; Sadako Lewis, Long Beach; Bo Kyle, Cecelia Moseley, David Stevens, Meridian; George Ann McCullough, Ocean Springs; Hannah Wegner, Perkinston; Whitson Ramsey, Petal; Joe MacGown, Joe Morzuch, John Bateman of Starkville; Barbara-Ann Carver-Hunt, Sumrall; Gail Morton, Thaxton; Virginia Rougon Chavis, University; Mary-Saphrona Grey, Yazoo City.  

Alabama: David Diodate and Debra Eubanks Riffe, Birmingham; Victoria Nichols, Calera; Hannah Lewis, Dora; Dee Falls and MJ Dobbins, Hoover; Wesley Ortiz, Huntsville; Michelle Jones, Mobile; Rachel Strain, Montevallo; William T. Dooley, Northport; Charlotte Wegrzynowski and Tom Wegrzynowski, Tuscaloosa; Morgan Capps, Vance. MO: Tiffany V. McPeak, Columbia.

Meridian Museum of Art is located at 628 25th Ave., downtown Meridian. For more information, contact Kate Cherry at 601-693-1501, [email protected] or visit the website www.meridianmuseum.org.

• Sponsors for the Meridian Museum of Art are the city of Meridian, The Phil Hardin Foundation, the Mississippi Arts Commission, The Riley Foundation, Meridian Airport Authority, The Community Foundation of East Mississippi, and The Paul and Sherry Broadhead Foundation.