VICKSBURG FACTS: Vicksburg Natives with an artistic vision 

Published 8:00 am Friday, January 6, 2023

Did you know that Vicksburg is the home of several famous visual artists?

Vicksburg is the home to many types of artists, from musicians and poets all the way to artists and photographers. Some of Vicksburg’s most famous visual artists are Caroline Russell Compton, Andrew Bucci and Jack R. Thornell. 

Caroline Russell Compton was a Vicksburg native born in 1907. She graduated from All Saints Junior College in Vicksburg. In 1927, she graduated from Sweet Briar College in Virginia and then began to study at the Grand Central School of Art in New York.

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Eventually, she returned to Mississippi and traveled to various public schools as an art teacher as part of the Federal Art Project. She then served as the WPA’s state art director from 1939 to 1940. In 1961, she organized the Vicksburg Art Association and in 1971 opened the Vicksburg Firehouse Gallery. Compton also has 31 pieces that are in the permanent collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art. She used various mediums such as graphite, watercolor, oils and woodblocks. Most of her work consists of people, landscapes, houses, public buildings and riverfront settings that are from Vicksburg.

Jack R. Thornell, born in Vicksburg, is a Post-war and Contemporary photographer. From 1957 to 1960 he served in the United States Army, and at that time he was sent to the Army Photography School at Fort Monmouth, N.J., as stated in  “About Shooting Down of a Black Voter on a Mississippi Highway in 1966,” by Jack R. Thornell.

After he served in the Army, Thornell began working at the Jackson Daily News and in 1964 he joined the Associated Press in New Orleans. In 1965, Thornell worked in the Dominican Republic and was then transferred to Selma, Ala. His most notable work is his photo of the shooting of James Meredith in Mississippi by a roadside rifleman in 1967, as stated on the Pulitzer Prize website. 

Andrew Bucci, a Vicksburg native, primarily used watercolors and oils when creating his painting. His early works were fashion-inspired, while his more modern work was described as eclectic, lyrical and calligraphic according to his biography from the official Andrew Bucci website.

His main source of inspiration came from nature and the human face and form. His work has been featured at the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Johnson Collection, the Arkansas Arts Center, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

His watercolor magnolia design was selected for the U.S. Postage Stamp that commemorated Mississippi’s 150th year. Bucci was the recipient of the Governor’s Award of Excellence in the Arts in 2009 and in 2012 he received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. His work was also selected for the USA International Ballet Competition in 2014 and 2023, according to his website. Bucci died in 2014 in Ridgeland.