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JNH Artist – Virgil Bynum

JNH Artist
Fri, 03/29/2024 - 00:00

JNH Artist – Virgil Bynum
Artwork on Building 78

In 2004, after an automobile accident left him in a wheelchair, an amputated left arm, and limited use of his right arm, Virgil Bynum struggled with depression. Art has been a positive creative outlet to help him work through his depression and create something beautiful in the process. It allows him to express himself and gives him something to focus on besides his physical body. Art is therapeutic for him physically, mentally, and emotionally. June McCafferty serves as Bynum’s Social Services representative and observed, “Mr. Bynum uses his ability to paint and express himself through his art as a way to handle the stressors that come with being in his situation. It is very therapeutic for him.”

Originally from Magee, Bynum has been a resident of Jaquith Nursing Home for the past 11 years. He enjoys participating in many recreational activities at Mississippi State Hospital (MSH), but art is his favorite. His love of art goes back to high school, with Bob Ross being his icon for as long as he can remember. He likes to mimic his painting style and techniques to create multidimensional paintings. Bynum says he used oil-based paints for many years, but since his accident he prefers acrylic paint because it dries faster, which is more conducive of painting while utilizing the hand brace that his paintbrush clicks into. 

Bynum does not sketch out his paintings beforehand. He begins with a vision in his mind and works quickly to get it down on canvas. He has a knack for blending colors to create the exact hue he is visualizing. He also has good depth perception, which helps him create paintings that have texture and dimension. Bynum uses a variety of brushes and techniques in his painting process. Despite his skills and years of experience, Bynum considers himself a novice artist. 

He enjoys creating multiple pieces of artwork each year for the annual Serendipity Art Show and Silent Auction at MSH. But most recently, he created a large piece of artwork for display on Jaquith Nursing Home, Building 78. Bynum said the painting took him about five hours to complete and it was a scene that he visualized in his mind and brought to life on canvas.

Ceci Whitehurst, Art Services Supervisor, noted that, “Virgil is very dedicated to attending art classes, he also enjoys painting in his room on his own time too. He is always open to trying new things with his art, even if it is something he’s not familiar with, he will try it. Despite his physical challenges, he doesn’t let it hold him back. He is very talented and his artwork is unique. We are very proud of Virgil and his beautiful artwork and love that he enjoys sharing his talent with others.”

Ricky Shelby, Art Instructor, added, “Virgil’s landscapes have a unique style that he has developed over time with colors, lines, and content. He uses his limitations to his advantage which makes his paintings loose and open.” He utilizes different styles with different mediums. As a result, his landscape paintings are very different than his portraits. When painting with acrylic, Virgil typically paints peaceful, outdoorsy, nature scenes that include sunsets, cabins, lakes, trees, waterfalls, fences, and deer. When using watercolors, he paints a variety of subjects including portraits and an array of animals.

Former MSH Art Instructor, Ron Lindsey reflected, “I taught Art on Building 78 for 14 years. Virgil was the anchor of the group. He almost never missed a class. His talent and imagination was very evident. In between classes, during the week, he would produce impressive amounts of work. He was always well represented at Serendipity. Virgil is a true artist and a gentleman. I very much enjoyed working with him.”

Bynum has a unique and identifiable style that makes him a sought-out artist in the annual Serendipity Art Show and Silent Auction. Serendipity is an annual exhibit and auction featuring artwork created by participants in art classes at Mississippi State Hospital. It is an opportunity for patients and residents to see their art framed and on display, and earn some money when their art is sold during the auction. Serendipity is always held the first Thursday in September. In 2024, it will be held on September 5.

In 2023, the Serendipity Art Calendar made a return appearance to the event and was well-received. It featured artwork created by residents of Jaquith Nursing Home. Many JNH artists have their artwork listed as part of the Serendipity Art Show, but it was a special honor to have a piece selected to be featured in the calendar. Bynum was among those honored artists.