Alumni artists curate new dual exhibits at MTSU’s Todd Gallery opening Oct. 24

Oct 22, 2020 at 09:01 am by WGNS

"Point of Entry," a three-part installation of large-scale passageway structures with doors created by Nashville artist and Fisk University Galleries director and curator Jamaal Sheats, is included in new dual collaborative exhibits, "Collective Memories: Creative Expressions Through Contemporary Art” and “Words to Live By," on display at MTSU's Todd Art Gallery Oct. 24-Nov. 21. This view of the installation shows the interior of Structure 1, with shelves holding books dating from 1936 to 2011, en route to Structure 2, which has a carved birch wood door allowing entry into a calm passage with the aroma of cedar chips. The door of Structure 3, shown in the distance, is made of copper with John Milton's "Paradise Lost" in Braille with etched graffiti. (image courtesy of Jamaal Sheats)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU's Department of Art and Design is welcoming quite a topic of conversation to the Todd Art Gallery beginning Saturday, Oct. 24: dual exhibits with work created by artists of all ages, curated by a pair of Murfreesboro artists and community arts advocates.

"Collective Memories: Creative Expressions Through Contemporary Art” and “Words to Live By," collaborative exhibits curated by Dr. Barbara and Leroy Hodges, will share the Todd’s spacious main gallery, Room 224A, located in the heart of the MTSU campus at 542 Old Main Circle. 

The exhibits are free to the public weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Guests must follow MTSU's mask and social distancing requirements.

The Todd Gallery will welcome the curators and the artists Saturday, Oct. 31, with a special artists’ reception set for 1:30-3 p.m. in the main gallery. The event, which also is free to the public, will feature gospel, jazz and blues provided by Adore Adonai.

Leroy Hodges, who makes use of Cubism in his own artwork, said the dual exhibits tell “stories spanning personal and cultural memories that are open to interpretation” and are aimed at prompting new conversations and collaborations.

“‘Collective Memory’ spans nations, cultures and generations,” Hodges explained. “This collaborative brings together sculptures, paintings and works on paper by local, regional and national artists embracing and showcasing their creative expressions of collective memories through contemporary art."

The works on display feature vibrant colors and subtle abstractions, creating a gamut of textures, provocative images, mixed media, surrealism, figurative and layered landscapes.

“Words to Live By” showcases the artistry found from a broad spectrum of senior adults, veterans and community youth. Gallery coordinator and director Eric Snyder said the artists’ work “conveys the creatively and visually expressive interpretations of how words, phrases, quotes and sayings significantly influenced their lives.”

Added Hodges, “It’s hoped that this art exhibit gives a voice to those who desire to be boundless by words."

The Hodges, both two-time MTSU alumni, have used their artistic interests and talents to both enrich their lives and communicate and share the arts with their communities. 

Barbara Hodges, a mixed-media artist who creates fabric art, is a local physician specializing in family medicine. Leroy Hodges is a computer programmer. 

They co-founded “Kids for the Creative Arts Inc.," an organization that promotes awareness of and appreciation for the creative arts among children 3 to 17 years old, in 2002.

The Hodges have participated in and presented art exhibits in Middle Tennessee for many years, including exhibits at galleries in Murfreesboro’s Center for the Arts, Patterson Park Community Center and Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center and at the Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

The pair are among the artists whose work will be on display at MTSU’s Todd Gallery in the dual exhibits through Saturday, Nov. 21. 

Other participating artists include LaRonda Angelisa, Daniel Arite, Omar Booker, Lloyd DeBerry, Elisheba Israel, Dayo Johnson, Henry Jones, Suzanne LeBeau, Donna Mag, Michael McBride, Jennifer McGuire, Robert Miranda, Lakesha Moore, Michael Mucker, George Nock, Robert Orr Jr., Xavier Payne, Walter Pope, DeeDee Potter, Destiney Powell, Jamaal Sheats, Heloise Shilstat, Lisa Sims, Roger Smith, Diane Stockard, Ginny Toygre, James Threalkill, Thaxton Waters, Mary Watkins and Carlton Wilkinson.

More information about the Hodges and their work is available at their website,

MTSU's Department of Art and Design, which is part of the university's College of Liberal Arts, offers undergraduate degree programs in art education, art history, visual arts, studio art and graphic design. It also regularly invites artists ranging from local to international fame to exhibit in the Todd Art Gallery, conduct workshops and lecture in classes. 

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