One of the highlights each year at FestivalSouth is the art created specifically for the annual event.
Hattiesburg artist Amy Giust, who is best known for her abstracts, has been a part of the festival since its inception, creating a collection of artwork.
Giust was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and studied art at Hope College in Holland, Mich., and then again later at the University of SouthernMississippi in Hattiesburg.
She began her career as a professional painter in the late 1980s after locating to Mississippi andraising her three children. Inspired by the spontaneity of her own children's artwork, the desire to paint realistically gave way to an experimental world of shape, color and contrast.
For the past 25 years, Giust has been involved in solo exhibits at galleries throughout the eastern half of the U.S.
Giust has been creating the official painting for FestivalSouth since the beginning of the festival in 2009. This year, her painting, “We Are Mississippi,” is an abstraction of a main-street downtown in festival mode, incorporating bits and pieces of Hattiesburg. The painting is 30 x 40 inches acrylic on canvas.
“I wanted the lines and shapes of the buildings to be whimsical and fun.” Giust said.
Giust continues to create works for the festival because it’s her unique way to contribute to the community and FestivalSouth.
“Although I grew up in Cincinnati, Hattiesburg has been my home since 1985,” she said.
“One of the reasons I love Hattiesburg is the access we have to good music through the universities and the community programs here.”
Since its inception, Mississippi sculptor Ben Watts has provided seven sculptures to the festival. However, due to his workload, this year Watts is passing the torch to a previous FestivalArtist, Jeremy Thomley. His sculpture for FestivalSouth’s eighth season is titled “Muse.”
Thomley describes his new creation as, “‘The Conductor…the Leader.’ He stands larger than life with the Hub City skyline at his back. Rooted to his home, he is a builder, a contributor, a dreamer. He shapes the world with his talents and celebrates with those who know how. The sound is music. The medium is people. The time is now.”
The sculpture is made of 20 pounds of steel, standing 19 inches tall and 8 inches wide.
Thomley’s sculpture and Giust’s painting will be available for viewing at major events and as part of a silent auction throughout the festival.