Ansley Givhan’s Homecoming to the Oxford Art Scene Was Anything But “Messy”

Ansley Givhan, an Ole Miss alumna who has been establishing herself as an artist in New Orleans, is back in Oxford with her first solo exhibit at Southside Gallery on the Square.

She came into college as a psychology student and slowly morphed into an art major by the end of sophomore year. Since becoming an artist, Givhan has painted and drawn in several styles to have a diversified creative palette.

Her exhibit, called “Messy” to hone in on her creative process, showcases 24 works of mostly large-scale art that were completed in only an eight-week span.

There was a noticeable consensus among viewers, casual and close to Givhan, that they enjoyed the aspect of fun that she brings to a canvas. Elderly citizens and a family with a young boy were all walking around intrigued with the paintings.

“There’s something that kind of touches you emotionally from that childhood appreciation,” said Southside Gallery Director, Will Cook.

Cook has known Givhan since her college days in Oxford when she first exhibited at Southside Gallery on a small scale but knew the first time he saw her work that it had a special quality to it.

“It’s just fun and relatable. People walk through the gallery and like giggle to themselves,” said Southside Gallery Assistant, Victoria Collyer.

However, the relatability does not take away from the sophistication of Givhan’s work. Collyer, Givhan’s best friend, has been a close follower of her work since the beginning.

“I think there’s something for everyone in this show,” said Collyer. “Anyone can kind of relate to abstract work because every person has their own interpretation and it’s very personal.”

Givhan’s combination of abstract art and still life contained in the “Messy” exhibit is one of the main focal points. Walking around the room for the first time, you get hints of deja vu until you’re hit with the realization that some of the paintings are simply scenes in other paintings around Givhan’s studio.

“Painting in a more broad and general sense is an important lesson when painting from life,” said Givhan.

Givhan stressed the idea that an artist can break from the mold of painting only still life and manipulate it to your desire.

“It’s just all learning experience and most of my work is about process and how I learn and discover new things throughout the process of painting,” said Givhan.

The process for the “Messy” exhibit was expedited after Givhan took a month long trip to Australia three months before the exhibit was set to go on display. Givhan thinks the rushed timeline ended up working to her advantage.

“It just kept me in the studio every day all the time, and that’s what makes you better at painting,” said Givhan.

Her diligent work ethic led to her filling the whole first floor at Southside Gallery. Cook noted that sometimes artists have to share events because of the difficulty that comes with filling an entire gallery, let alone on a first showcase.

Although the “Messy” exhibit is mainly an abstract showcase, Givhan doesn’t want to be confined to any genre of art. As stated above, the goal for Givhan is to keep on growing through her art.

“There’s an element of inventiveness that I love about painting,” said Givhan.

Givhan’s element of inventiveness in her work will be on display at Southside Gallery until October 6.