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Art exhibition by Southeast alumnus and Nashville educator to begin Aug. 24th

A return to his home and an opportunity to showcase his handiwork will soon become reality for acclaimed artist and educator James C. Jim Ferguson as his one-man show opens August 24 in the gallery of the Edsel Godbey Appalachian Center located on the Cumberland campus of Southeast Kentucky Community amp; Technical College.

Ferguson, of Harlan, graduated from Southeast in 1966 and shortly thereafter embarked on a highly-successful career as an educator. Recently retired from the Nashville Metropolitan School System, he spent 41 years in the classroom. After stepping aside in June, he is leaving behind rich memories and a sense of accomplishment for the job he did at McGavock High School.

The exhibition, featuring much of his award-winning work, will be in place in the Southeast gallery until the end of September. With the opening of the show on August 24, Ferguson will be on hand to host a 12:30 p.m. brown bag lunch and learn lecture that is free and open to the public.

The opening of the exhibition also marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of the colleges 50 years of service to the area. Southeast President Dr. W. Bruce Ayers, a classmate of Ferguson at Southeast in the mid 1960s, is excited about the return of his friend.

The opening of the exhibition featuring works painstakingly and meticulously created by Jim Ferguson will serve as the official kickoff for our year of celebrating the existence and contribution the college has made to the entire region and to the commonwealth, he noted.

Southeast opened its doors in 1960 as a satellite of the University of Kentucky. Some 200 students were enrolled that first semester; today the college boasts an enrollment of nearly 4,000 students who attend classes at full-service campuses located at Cumberland, Harlan, Whitesburg, Middlesboro and Pineville.

With over four decades to his credit as a teacher where he taught literally thousands of children the finer points of art, Ferguson always found time to be creative -- to satisfy his need to express his feelings. His art has always been well received and has gained much notoriety. His work has been the recipient of the prestigious Peoples Choice Award at the Tennessee State Fair. He has also exhibited his art at the Opryland Hotel and pieces of his collection depicting Native American Sioux have gained much attention and been displayed nationally. Over the years, he has staged one-man shows in Louisville and across Nashville.

After a two-year stay at Southeast, he went to Eastern Kentucky University receiving a bachelors degree. He also holds a masters degree from Lipscomb University and also studied at Cumberland University, Berean School of the Bible, and Tennessee State University.

It is, however, as an educator that he wishes to be remembered. Teaching for me is a ministry, he said, I always tried to adopt all my students as my own sons and daughters and teach them about art. It should be fun and students should learn something too.

He chose to become a teacher by chance when as a student at Southeast he was part of a group of students who traveled to a remote area of Letcher County where they worked with children who attended a one-room school. I taught the children a basic shading class, a little girl who looked like the Laura character on Little House on the Prairie looked up at me and smiled. At that instant, I knew I wanted to become a teacher.

As he prepares to return to his home area and to the college he last attended 44 years ago, Ferguson is grateful for the chance to showcase his work; he is elated to once more make a connection to the people of southeast Kentucky.

For additional information about the Ferguson exhibit and the brown bag lunch and learn event set for 12:30 p.m. on August 24, phone Larry LaFollette, Southeast Cumberland campus, 589-3131.