Martha Ferris, the Vicksburg artist and recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Visual Arts in Visual Arts this year, will exhibit new work in the gallery’s first solo exhibition, which is scheduled for November. The Oxford gallery will host an opening reception on Friday. Vivian Neill, the gallery’s owner, said that Martha has a great sense of place. She travels extensively, and her artwork allows people to feel like they are able to go along on her journeys. Ferris and Neill first met at the show that earned Ferris the highest state honors for the arts. She received it in June at Mississippi Museum of Art. “We saw her exhibit “Foreign & Familiar Places” at Fischer Galleries Jackson in October last year, and we were so impressed,” Neill stated. “Marcy Nessel (owner of Fischer Galleries) introduced us, and we soon went to Martha and Kos’ home in Vicksburg. It was amazing to see her work when we visited her studio. Ferris stated that Martha is a truly versatile artist. It was hung perfectly by Martha. It was a wonderful experience. She advised me to check out the Oxford Treehouse Gallery. She said it would be a great fit for me. Marcy is an arts nurturer. She’ll do whatever it takes to help her artists and clients.” Neill invited Ferris, who was from Oxford, to visit the gallery. Ferris stated, “I felt at ease right away with Vivian’s and Walter.” They are wonderful people. Walter created the gallery by hand, making it a beautiful place. He is a skilled blacksmith and woodworker, and also owns a workshop. I did not get to meet their chickens. But, I will when I hang the exhibit.” “Paintings And Drawings: Black and white in Color” Ferris’ exhibit at Oxford Treehouse Gallery will showcase several of his encaustics. These involve melting beeswax and mixing it with color pigments. Ferris stated that she had done this before, but it was not for a long time. Ferris stated that she will include eight encaustic pieces. A selection of recent works by the artist will also be part of the one-woman show. Some pieces have never been seen before. She said that she will also be showing large drawings and a new project, silver ink on black papers. Ferris did not study art but she enjoyed painting and drawing as a child. She said, “I was the kid who did murals for prom and such.” She studied art history at college, and then she taught. She said, “But I really wanted be an actor.” Ferris said, “I was so serious about this that I moved to Los Angeles.” Ferris met Kos Kostmayer in L.A., a Queens writer. It was also where Ferris got back into art. “While I was living in Los Angeles, I signed up for a UCLA continuing education course in painting and dying fabric. It was a great experience. It was that experience that set me on the path to making art with fabric,” she stated. In 1990, Ferris and her husband moved to Vicksburg to live on the farm that Ferris grew up at the Big Black River. She has enjoyed a distinguished art career, with many high-profile commissions including the McRae Children’s Fountains at Mississippi Museum of Art’s garden. The fountains were inspired by a Mississippi pond rich in life. Ferris stated, “It was a wonderful opportunity working with Betsy Bradley (MMA director), as well as Madge Bemiss, the architect,” It was fascinating to watch the entire process. It was clear that I wanted to make the fountains in mosaic. Ferris was inspired by Niki de SaintPhalle’s work in the Tarot Garden in Italy. Ferris worked with a New Hampshire mosaic company and they had to struggle with the Mississippi heat. She exclaimed, “But we got the job done!” Ferris is always trying new media and is so grateful to have an art garden. “Martha, a warm and intelligent woman, is what I admire about her work,” Neill stated. “I’m so grateful Marcy introduced me.” Ferris’ exhibit will open Friday with an opening reception from 5-8 p.m.