Reception opens Casey’s new show

Published 10:11 pm Monday, April 18, 2011

For Alabama artist Mary Ann Casey, the reception at the Johnson Center for the Arts today will be a homecoming of sorts. For homefolks, it will be a chance to visit with a friend and hear the stories that she has to tell about people who have impacted the lives of most all who call Alabama home.

The artist’s reception will be from 4 until 6 p.m. today at the Johnson Center for the Arts and the public is invited.

Casey’s “Behind the Images: Alabama Stories” is a combination portrait and written word exhibition.

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Wiley White, Johnson Center development director, said the stories that Casey has to tell are insightful, intriguing and inspirational.

“The stories are mounted on the wall next to the portraits of, what I would call Alabama, icons,” White said. “There is a story to go with each portrait and these stories make the portraits even more meaningful. ‘The Birmingham Girls’ is a beautiful portrait of the four little girls who were celebrating Young Day at their church, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on Sept. 15,1963, when a bomb exploded beneath the basement stairs.”

Casey said she wondered how she would be able to do portraits of those precious little girls who lost their lives on that day.

“But I realized the message of that piece is we are to love, forgive and make a difference,” she said. “And we should know each other’s name. Those precious little girls had names, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins. I want people to know their names.”

Casey said it’s impossible to really know someone unless you know his or her stories.

“I knew the names of the people in these portraits but the more of their stories that I learned, the more real they became to me,” she said. “It’s important to know the stories.”

Casey’s own story began right here in Alabama and, “as it happens with all artists, home is where the heart is and Alabama is where my heart has always been and I want to tell its stories.”

The TroyFest Student Art Competition Exhibition and the Charles Henderson High School Senior Arts Exhibit are in the upper level gallery of the arts center and the Projekt: Recon exhibition is on the lower level and may be viewed during the reception/exhibition.

Following the artist’s reception, everyone is invited to gather at the Gazebo on the square for the Troy University Concert Band’s Spring Concert. The band will be under the direction of Ray Smith and Dr. Larry Blocher.

The downtown concert will feature a variety of music from folk songs of the British Isles to selections from the “Phantom of the Opera.”

The City of Troy will provide free hotdogs and drinks but those who would like to picnic at the park are invited to do so.

Admission to the Johnson Center is free as is admission to the band concert.

“We just want everyone to come out and enjoy these two events that will kickoff the 9th Annual TroyFest Celebration on April 30 and May 1 in downtown Troy,” White said.