Ruston Artisans is pleased to announce internationally recognized artist Morris Taft Thomas will be presenting The Art of Morris Taft Thomas Exhibition as part of a parish-wide initiative to celebrate Black History Month. The Exhibition will open on January 21, 2019, Martin Luther King Day, and will close on March 1, 2019. The Artist Reception will be held on February 2, 2019 from 5 - 8 pm.
Morris Taft Thomas has created artwork for Nelson Mandela, Alex Haley, President Jimmy Carter, BB King and so many more. He is a gifted author, prolific artist, dynamic poet, and exceptional teacher. He was an Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity brother with, and had the honor of interviewing, Martin Luther King, Jr. Thomas was born October 12, 1935 in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the age of two, Thomas' family moved to Scotlandville, Louisiana. He attended Southern University Laboratory School in 1953 and completed his undergraduate and graduate work at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960 and Master of Education in Supervision and Administration in 1978, doing further study at Trinity University, McNeese State University, and Louisiana State University. He served on the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Board of Directors, 1998-2002.
Thomas' teaching career began in Alexandria, Louisiana where he taught junior high school for twelve (12) years and was subsequently promoted to principal. He was a principal in the Rapides Parish School System for 25 years and adjunct professor of art history at Louisiana State University at Alexandria (LSUA). Thomas retired in 1997 after a thirty-seven year teaching career.
Thomas' works varies from naturalistic to abstract. Contemporary abstract designs, animals, masks and flowers are motifs that occupy his oeuvre. Thomas is competent in many mediums including-stone, wood, clay and paint. His subject matter is drawn from African art combined with an interest in his native Louisiana heritage. He has embraced this series, taking his cue from artists like Jacob Lawrence. The artist admits that he completes a minimum of ten works in each series, and then moves on to another theme of interest. Mr. Thomas will next be showing his paintings and sculptures in New York.
In addition to the Exhibition, Ruston Artisans has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of North Central Louisiana, City of Ruston Mainstreet, Experience Ruston/Convention and Visitor Bureau, First Baptist Church, Grambling State University, Lincoln Parish Achieve, Louisiana Tech University, North Central Louisiana Arts Council, Ruston Cultural District, Ruston Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, and Zion Baptist Church to provide other events in Ruston and the Parish in celebration of Black History Month:
Monday, January 21, 2019 – The Art of Morris Taft Thomas Exhibition, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Ruston Artisans Gallery & Venue) In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Tribes Food Truck by Colby Rushing will be on site for luncheon service. (On Alabama Ave)
Monday, January 21, 2019 – What’s Next? Actualizing the Dream of Martin Luther King Jr. with Bryan K. Smith, author of #BLACKNOTBLIND Critical Observations in Crucial Times. 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. 16th Annual Louisiana Tech University, Office of Multicultural Affairs Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration (Civic Center). This event is free and open to the public.
Saturday, January 26, 2019 – The Monroe-Grambling (LA) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated will host an event featuring the work of Artist Morris Taft Thomas, 7:00 p.m. Open to the Public. (Ruston Artisans Gallery & Venue) Artist Morris Taft Thomas will be in attendance.
Saturday, February 2, 2019 – Artist Reception for The Art of Morris Taft Thomas Exhibition, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Ruston Artisans Gallery & Venue)
Sunday, February 3, 2019 – Worship 8:45 a.m. (First Baptist Church in Ruston) and at 10:30 a.m. (Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Grambling) Artist Morris Taft Thomas will be in attendance.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - Coach Eddie Robinson’s 100th Commemorative Birthday Celebration - 9:15 a.m. - Motorcade to the cemetery to place a wreath on Coach Robinson’s gravesite (Meet at Eddie Robinson Stadium). 11:00 a.m. – The program will be lead by Coach Ellis (Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center on GSU Campus).
Thursday, February 14, 2019 – All day Coach Eddie Robinson Birthday Party with activities during museum hours. (Eddie G. Robinson Museum)
Thursday, February 14, 2019 – NCLAC Indie Film: Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind – The Carolina Chocolate Drops Story, 7:00 p.m. (Dixie Theatre) Lawn Party, 5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Thursday, February 15, 2019 - Lincoln Achieve Sponsored Student Field Trip: NCLAC Indie Film, Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind – The Carolina Chocolate Drops Story, Student Viewing Only (Dixie Theatre) and Gallery Exhibition Viewing (Ruston Artisans Gallery & Venue)
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 –Bakari Sellers, activist, lawyer, and political commentator will be speaking at 11:00 a.m. (Grambling State University)
Friday, March 1, 2019 – Last Day of the Art of Morris Taft Thomas Exhibition, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Ruston Artisans Gallery & Venue)
In addition to the events listed above, other activities and events are being planned. The Lincoln Parish Museum will be announcing a special event in mid February and we are hoping to have a concert organized as well. To keep up-to-date on all events and activities, follow @CityofRuston @ExperienceRuston @Grambling1901 @LATech @RustonArtisans @RustonChamber and @NCLAC5 on Facebook and Instagram.
Ruston Artisans is located at 203 W Alabama Avenue in historic downtown Ruston, Louisiana. The multipurpose gallery routinely offers new, thoughtful, and visually stimulating exhibits as well as events and workshops. The gallery is available for private receptions, parties, and events. Opportunities are available for artists, interns, sponsors and artist support. The gallery is open on Wednesday & Thursday from 10 am - 5 pm and Friday from 10 am - 4 pm. Private appointments are available.