Hutchison Alumna Sally Hughes Smith ’64 Featured at the Dixon

A collection of plein-air oil paintings by Sally Hughes Smith ’64 is on display at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens through October 1. Smith credits Hutchison with inspiring her to become an artist.
If you’ve been to the Dixon Gallery & Gardens lately, you might have seen beautiful artwork by a Hutchison alumna! “Adrenaline Rush,” an exhibition of plein-air oil paintings by Sally Hughes Smith ’64, is on display through October 1. 

“Her bright palette and loose brushwork reveal her interest in Impressionist and post-Impressionist painting. Her canvases demonstrate her careful observation of the natural world and deft handling of oil paint,” the Dixon curator noted online.

This is her 54th one-woman exhibit, and you can view more of her work on her website. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Smith’s work has been exhibited at venues across the southeast. In addition to her painting practice, she is also the author and illustrator of a children’s book, Rosebud Roams Charleston, and has led workshops on oil painting at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. There are two free events at the Dixon this month if you would like to hear more about Smith’s work and learn from her:
There is another Hutchison alumnae connection too: the exhibit is sponsored by the Sanders family: Reid, Chris Robinson ’72, daughter Aubrey ’04, and son Reid.

Smith has mentored AP Art students at Hutchison over the years and gives a lot of credit to her alma mater for cultivating her interest in and love of the arts. She says it all goes back to her third grade art teacher. Here’s the story in her own words:

This may seem a simple little story about my third grade Hutchison art teacher…but here I am 67 years later, having my 54th one-woman exhibit of paintings at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis. I think that Miss Davant would faint if she knew that!

Years ago, I tried to tell her how much one inconsequential afternoon helping a 9-year-old Sally Hughes paint a decoration on a ceramic plate we were designing had opened in me a possibility that all starts are not perfect and can be wonderful starting points for what comes next. She took up my brush and showed me what could come next, and suddenly my design had some life! I still have that plate.

I did track Miss Davant down in Trezevant Manor years later. I visited her and tried to tell her how much her simple faith in the “next step” had helped me along the way. Sadly, she was confused and I had missed my chance to say a simple thank you to her for all the encouraging things that struck home that she told all of us. She tried hard and our class was a handful!

Hutchison gave me an incredibly well-rounded education that I rode through two years at The University of Alabama and the Dean’s List at Duke University, and have been riding ever since. It all comes back to those amazing Hutchison teachers! Did I say thank you enough? How I wish I had.

As I set up this exhibit at the Dixon, I think back to a long chain of events that brought me here…and right there in the early dawning of my third grade year is Miss Davant trying to show us our potential.

Thank you, Hutchison. The older we get, the more we understand.

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