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Vicksburg resident official artist for IBC

[10/18/01]Kennith Humphrey doesn’t try to categorize his painting.

“Whatever I do is my style. It’s just my style.”

And anything can inspire him even car trouble.

“That one might be kind of depressing,” he said.

Thousands will be exposed to the Vicksburg native’s expressionistic style because he has been chosen as official artist for the 2002 USA International Ballet Competition. IBC officials announced their selection Wednesday in Jackson at Thalia Mara Hall.

Humphrey created an original painting, “Butterfly,” that is displayed on IBC’s official poster, and he will create another design for 2002 USA IBC commemorative items. The work evokes dancers in motion through a green background.

“I’m not going to tell you how long it took,” he said.

Humphrey said he’s been drawing since he was in preschool. He grew up in Vicksburg, attending Bowmar Elementary School. He moved away from Vicksburg for several years but said as he got older, he wanted to be home. He’s been back for about five years and works by day as a landscaper for the Vicksburg National Military Park and paints at night.

He works mostly in oils on canvas and pastel/acrylics on paper and his subject matter is often African-American figures involved in ordinary activities of daily life. His work is in hundreds of private and public collections, including a permanent collection at the Southern University Museum of Art in Baton Rouge. The Attic Gallery on Washington Street shows his work. and he was a finalist for the mural design on the flood wall at City Front earlier this year.

In 1990 the IBC began a tradition of showcasing Mississippi artists, said Sue Lobrano, executive director of the IBC that will draw hundreds of dancers from around the world June 13-30.

“Mr. Humphrey has a captivating style that makes his painted images appear to be in motion,” Lobrano said. “We thought his technique would be excellent for portraying dance and feel his work can be appreciated by people with varying artistic tastes.

The IBC is recognized as one the world’s most prestigious dance events. It is a two-week, “Olympic-style” competition where professional and amateur dancers vie for medals, cash awards and scholarships. Jackson has been the official home of the IBC in the United States since 1982. It is held in Jackson every four years. The competition rotates each year among Jackson, Moscow, Tokyo, and Varna, Bulgaria.