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February 28, 2005

University of Louisiana at Monroe Alumnus Paints ULM Presidential Portraits

In celebrating the history of its presidents at the "Presidential Perspective: A View from the Top" on February 28 at Brown Hall Auditorium at 6 p.m., the University of Louisiana at Monroe is also celebrating its alumni, as seen by ULM's choice of artist to render portraits of each of the presidents.

Local professional artist Adam Davenport graduated from ULM in 2000 with a BFA in Painting. Though tempted to return to his native Vicksburg after graduation, Davenport ultimately decided to place his roots in Monroe.

After painting the official portrait of Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice in 1998, Davenport recalled taking a closer look at ULM's artistic representations of its own historical figures-and realized that there weren't any.

"I was surprised that ULM didn't have any portraits of any of their presidents," Davenport said. "Most schools have that artwork. President Cofer is really supporting the arts. The atmosphere is right here now to do some neat projects like that."

If one may liken all the changes and improvements at ULM in recent years to a modern day Renaissance, Davenport professes himself honored that his alma mater commissioned his artistry to add to it.

"I live from my art," Davenport said. "I do it full-time, which is another thing that makes you a different breed of an artist. The quality of your work has to speak for itself."

One of Davenport's former professors at ULM remembered the level of his work and recommended him for the assignment. In December 2004, Davenport began work on four small charcoals of the living presidents and seven oil paintings-one for each of the presidents ever to direct the ULM destiny.

At the Presidential Perspective, each president will receive their personal charcoal rendition while the public will also see the unveiling of the first two presidential portraits (done in sequential order from ULM's founding)-one of C.C. Colvert and one of William Rodney Cline.

"I had to work from old photographs, so I had to piece together the colors, be creative on that end," Davenport said. "Black and white photographs don't show you too much, and these were old black and white photographs. There's a human element to it-to really show someone off, I don't think you get better than a painting or a drawing. There are a lot of nonverbal communicated things there. It's a psychological profile when you get to a certain level."

In time for the 75th anniversary in 2006, all seven portraits will eventually hang on the seventh floor of the ULM library.


By Sara Palazzo

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