Online Campaign to Improve UM Student Art Gallery

Dozens of student exhibitions each year need better lighting

UM art professor Philip Jackson works with an Ole Miss student during a plein air class on the Oxford Square. Students are required to stage a show of their work before graduating with fine arts degrees, and resources are needed to improve lighting for their exhibitions. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Every student seeking a degree in fine arts from the University of Mississippi Department of Art and Art History is required to exhibit their work in Meek Hall’s Gallery 130 before graduating.

For most students, the exhibit is a joyful highlight of their college careers. However, an outdated lighting system makes the work harder than it should be – a challenge an online fundraising campaign is addressing.

The gallery’s lighting must be updated and upgraded for the gallery to remain functional, said Nancy Wicker, chair of art and art history.

“We need to make some changes,” Wicker said. “We updated our bulbs from halogen to LED, which helped. But there are five sections of the track lighting that are unusable. If you look at the tracks themselves, you’ll see there are clamps holding them together.”

UM students work on creating artwork in a Meek Hall studio. An Ignite Ole Miss campaign is seeking to provide funds to improve the lighting in Gallery 130, where students stage exhibits of their works. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The art department has partnered with a lighting contractor to replace the outdated lighting system. However, the total cost for the project exceeds the department’s budget. To make up the difference, faculty members have launched an online fundraising campaign at

To thank contributors to the campaign, faculty members have prepared gifts for individuals who donate at different levels. The gifts range from stickers of student artwork for a $20 contribution up to a limited edition art print of faculty or student artwork for a gift of $1,000 or more.

Gifts from alumni, friends and the art lovers who frequent Oxford’s galleries and museums can bring Gallery 130 into the 21st century and ensure students have a proper gallery space for years to come, Wicker said. The need is more than just aesthetic.

“This is not just important for students and their work,” she said. “Having a functional gallery is critical to the accreditation of the entire department.”

Hunter Johnson, a Bachelor of Fine Arts alumna, said having her thesis work displayed in Gallery 130 set her on the path to becoming a professional artist.

“It was a really special experience to have that level of professionalism at such a young age, to be introduced to that,” Johnson said. “The gallery made that possible.”

To contribute to the campaign to upgrade Gallery 130, visit or contact digital giving officer Angela Atkins at 662-915-2755 or