A Day at the Museums–in Biloxi

Beatriz- Day at the Museums

With a light wind blowing playing with our hair…

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU

…today was perfect for going out on a Day at the Museums.  And our first stop was the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, which was first planned in the early 2000s.  owever, when the actual construction started Hurricane Katrina hit Biloxi, washing away most of the construction. Undaunted, the city began construction again, employing the renowned Frank Gehry as architect.

The buildings have Gehry’s trademark curves and steel, making for an aesthetically stunning Museum (albeit difficult to photograph).

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry

There were  two guest artists being showcased at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum: Ruth Miller and Greg Moran.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry

First, we saw the pieces of Mr. Moran.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Greg Moran

He mainly deals with different types of metals, wood, and stone to create sculptures and he also designs paintings.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Greg Moran

Mrs. Miller also has an interesting method of creating her own type of art.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Ruth Miller

She uses stitches to bring to life tapestries.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Ruth Miller

She accomplishes these masterpieces by first taking a picture, then tracing it onto a series of lined paper, and finally towards becoming a stitched artwork.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Ruth Miller

We had never seen her work, and we were blown away by her skill and technique.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Ruth Miller

…and we enjoyed going through the entire exhibit.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Ruth Miller

Next, we saw the George Ohr exhibit. There are three defining features of an Ohr piece: 1) having many twists and turns 2) thin walls 3) and lastly naturalistic images.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Ohr Pottery

Ohr had many qualities and charms. He became and eccentric man in order to become more successful. He would stand on his hands in front of his gallery to draw the crowd in, gel his mustache to look like it was being blown in the wind, and he verbalized various quotes that added to his art, such as “This Pot is here, and I am the Potter who was”.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Christina Perez, Kentucky Senator Dorsey Ridley
Christina Discusses Ohr Pottery with Kentucky Senator Dorsey Ridley

After these exhibits we took a short break for lunch and then headed to a ceramic workshop.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Ceramics

After a brief tutorial, we each designed–with varying levels of skill–tiles…

As part of our conference participation, the tiles will be glazed and mailed to us.  It was fun to learn and, pending the outcome of the tiles, we might even have something to keep!

At the next stop, we visited the Maritime and Seafood Museum. Biloxi was once known as the Seafood Capitol of the world, but after Hurricane Camille hit, they lost that title–although they still have a thriving seafood industry. Throughout the entire museum, we learned about the history of the seafood industry in Biloxi.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Maritime and Seafood Museum

This included poignant stories of specific sea vessels to technological innovations, such as this shrimp-peeling device.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Maritime and Seafood Museum

We even found a boat called “Little Bee,” our nickname for Beatriz.

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Maritime and Seafood Museum

One of the most interesting stories was about the lens from the Ship-Island lighthouse.  During the Civil War, Ship-Island was the site of a brief battle, and although the confederates declared victory, they retreated from the island, taking the lens with them.  Although it was returned and used again, the lighthouse became obsolete during the 20th century, and the Museum gained control of the Fresnel Lens.  During Hurricane Katrine, however, the lens was washed away, breaking into many pieces.  Originally crafted in France in 1820, the lens was believed lost forever.

Amazingly, however, the pieces of the lens were found and restored!

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Maritime and Seafood Museum

The curator described that restoration as a metaphor for the Gulf Coast, a hardy and durable area that, through teamwork, has managed to come back together after Katrina.

It was an educational day, full of networking and learning.  Little did we know what the evening had in store!

Southern Legislative Conference, Biloxi MS, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Ohr-O'Keefe, Frank Gehry, Ruth Miller