Terri Hester Cribb is an artist living in Madison. Her vibrant paintings line the halls of Madison Square Center for the Arts, where her studio is and where she paints and teaches. Being legally blind, Cribb is celebrated as an inspiration by artists who know her.
“I love the subtle changes that I see. And I see a lot of nuances in the colors of the world. It’s not made up colors for me. But my vision is different, and I see color changes and color shifts in things, which might not make a whole lot of sense but I don’t see real sharp edged lines on everything, I see color changes.”
Cribb has painted all over southeastern United States. She has been to Arkansas and painted the Ozarks and to North Carolina and painted the Blue Ridge Mountains. She has also painted places all over the map from photographs.
She often paints a mix of what she sees in front of her and what she sees in her mind. Whether they are abstracts or landscapes, Cribb relies on her mind’s eye.
“God blessed me with the ability to hold images in my mind pretty well,” she said, “and then I just use the photographs as reference points.”
She particularly enjoys looking at the way light filters through the trees and leaves. This is something she enjoys when she is painting outside or hiking. Painting is something she considers a transformative experience.
“Once you start doing art, and actually paying attention to the colors that you’re seeing, your eyes in your mind become open to all of the beauty and wonder that God put around us.”
Her creative process is a liberating experience she says. Seeing the picture in her mind and painting it, or drawing it, gives joy to her. “I’m very interested in reflections. I’ve got a series—I don’t do many series—that is about reflection. I’m interested in the shapes and motions of things. I’ve got a grouping of paintings when I was just really interested in the nuances of dark shadow colors.
“I’ve got work that reflects all of these things. They may not necessarily be in the title. But these different things influence what I do as much as anything. Subject matter can always change. I’ve watched so many things, it’s hard to stick with one particular something. But nature is always going to be a part of what I do.”
Cribb has been painting her entire life. Before coming to Mississippi, she lived in Alabama.
“I grew up in Montgomery Ala., before marrying and coming here. That must have been 26—27 years ago now.
“I’ve been painting since I was probably about five. But I had my first official painting class, or whatever you want to say, at 16. I took art as soon as I could start taking art in school.”
Soon, Cribb graduated from high school and left her teacher. She attended Huntington University in pursuit of a fine arts degree. But other subjects began to have her attention as well. She minored in biology and English.
“Books are awesome because they train you to use your imagination. And science went right along with it. I was always so curious about nature so it all just kind of fed right into all of it.”
Cribb's paintings are displayed on the ground floor of the Madison Square Center for the Arts building. She has oil paintings, oil pastel pieces of different landscapes and abstracts. A blue piece of a mountain range hangs on the wall on the way to the old gymnasium.
“I love nature and I am very much influenced by it.”
She teaches classes in her studio at the arts center. She teaches classes for both adults and children, two to three days a week. She also teaches art lessons at the summer camp the City of Madison puts on.
“I’m so grateful to have such a wonderful studio, and it's been wonderful working in the city over the years. So I’m just very, very thankful for all of it.”