A&M-Commerce Honors Alumna Jo Ann Durham

A&M-Commerce and its Department of Art recognized award-winning artist and alumna Jo Ann Durham with a reception in her honor on Nov. 2. The event, which was a part of the university's 2013 Homecoming festivities, took place in the President's Hallway on the second floor of the McDowell Administration Building, where Durham's artwork is currently featured.

Earlier this year, Durham donated more than a dozen of her paintings to her alma mater. With the exception of one piece auctioned in October at the university's annual donor event, the Royal Roar, 17 of Durham's paintings will remain on display in the Presidential Gallery through next year when she is inducted into the President's Circle.

“I'm 78 now. I just can't keep all of this,” Durham said, regarding the donation. “And I'm so happy to still be painting. I'm like any artist. I want people to see my work […] it's a legacy.”

Durham received her bachelor's degree in art and history from A&M-Commerce (then East Texas State Teachers College) in 1956. Since that time, she has had a distinguished career, exhibiting her artwork across the nation as well as in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. Durham is a member of New York's prestigious Salmagundi Club, and her paintings have been widely reproduced in magazines and books. A file on Durham's work is held at the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Two of her paintings are in the permanent collection of the public library system in Fort Worth, where she currently resides.

Several of Durham's works incorporate a blend of the technique of “encaustic painting” – an ancient method of fusing paint by mixing pigments into heated wax – and pointillism, in which the artist creates a pattern with many small, distinct dots of color to create an image. Durham acknowledged that it is a process that takes hours to complete.

“Her artwork exhibits a true sense of detail,” said Joseph Daun, head of A&M-Commerce's Department of Art. “[Durham's] gift gives students an opportunity to examine an artist's career that was heavily influenced by ETSU.”