Story and photos by Reggie Johnson Jr. | Contributing Writer and Photographer
What does this piece mean to you?
Jimmy Mumford is Middle Tennessee State University’s newest chair member in their art department. Mumford took the position back in March 2022. He previously taught graphic design at Jackson State University. Mumford graduated with a BFA from Delta State University in 1997 and an MFA from Memphis College Of Art in 2000.
When asked what this piece meant to him, this was his response: “When you say I am my community, the title is self-explanatory. So for me, as an African American man, I am no different from the people in this picture. I am them, I used to chop cotton. The piece is about Holmes County in Mississippi, which is in the Delta. Agriculture is real big in Holmes County. It used to be the number one producer of cotton. Cotton was the only thing people would associate with Holmes County. The piece sheds light on contributions made by African Americans, who helped make Holmes County what it is.”
I am a product of my community, and together we are strong.Jimmy Mumford
What are your goals and desires with the art department at MTSU?
While here at Middle Tennessee State University, Mumford wants to “open up doors for more.”
Mumford hopes to bring in former students from Jackson State University. “I’ll never forget the experiences I had there. If we could create opportunities and grab programs here, I could reach back to students. Come, join me and get your degree. I don’t want them to think that they don’t have any options.”
During his interview in March, MTSU had a goal to host “a potential master of fine arts program.” Mumford believes the resources and connections at Middle Tennessee State University can help make this idea achievable.
What does art meant to you?
“Art means to me means telling a story. As you look around the gallery, you have all these pieces that the faculty members have created. They’re telling a story that captures (either) a time or a moment. But art to me means being expressive in your art. I don’t write and I don’t do the math. I’m an artist. I express my feelings and my thoughts through my artwork. And through my artwork, I try to engage others and teach them without them knowing.”
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