Mississippi Monday | Purple Word

IMG_7037 Sandra Murchison, a professor of Studio Arts at Millsaps College, has a giant heart, a love for her craft and an amazing vision for our community. And, with all of these in combination, she's created an amazing organization that we are so proud exists in our state- Purple Word Center for Books & Paper Arts . We instantly connected with Sandra over the love of letterforms and of course printmaking and letterpress, but what she's created through this program is extending so much deeper than design and it's touching so many lives, we are honored to call her a fellow Mississippian and to feature her and her vision here today...


(photo credit: Millsaps College)


What exactly is Purple Word ?

Purple Word Center for Book & Paper Arts serves members of the Midtown community in Jackson, MS by providing a safe and encouraging space for all to create connections between text and image. Purple Word promotes literacy by actively engaging the children of Midtown in the process of printmaking and book arts. The center serves artists and others teaching workshops on printmaking and book arts, while also providing access to studio space, equipment and materials for artists of all ages in the greater Jackson area.

In other words: it's an art center for book arts, box making, printmaking forms including: letterpress, monotypes, woodcuts, linoleum cuts and stencils and we are about to build a papermaking studio. We have members who use the space and groups of 10-15 students can arrange for a workshop in any of these areas.



When and how did you first become interested in the process of printing and the printed word?

I started printmaking as a Sophomore at Alfred University, 23 years ago. I learned how to set type by taking a letterpress workshop at Penland School of Crafts a little over a year ago.


How does Mississippi play a role in Purple Word?

Our primary mission is to serve the children in Midtown with an arts education that they otherwise lack AND to do it in such a way that it promotes those same children to want to read and tell stories.



What are your goals for the program?

This fall: We will build a papermaking studio, acquire a brand new Takach etching press (top of the line) and additional studio equipment. Now we have moved to a space three times larger than our original space, and successfully received two key grants, I would like to return my attention on our group workshops and building our membership.


Where do you see Purple Word in 5 years?

A larger membership, constant group workshops being offered and a well established assistant who I can partner with.


How can other people take part and get involved?

Become a member, arrange for a group workshop or just step in and see the space any Friday morning between 9 am and noon you will find me there with other friends and members of Purple Word for sure.



We know you are also a professor at Millsaps College. What do you like to do when you aren't creating/teaching/mentoring?

I raise my twin 3 year old boys. You can frequently find us at the zoo, the children's museum, a soccer field, a scouts meeting or perhaps taking a hike behind the natural science museum.


What are your favorite local places to shop and dine?

Saltine, Babalu and Deep South Pops.


What are some of the reasons you call Mississippi home?

I am now in my seventeenth year of teaching at Millsaps College, where my husband Julian also teaches cultural anthropology. And, of course, Purple Word has anchored me here in the most amazing way!


How do you think what you are doing is helping to shape your local community as well as the image of Mississippi?

I have the incredible opportunity to work with children and offer them a far greater awareness of all that life has to offer them. Our time together is filled with joy, and we all carry that into our lives beyond Purple Word. Likewise, members of Purple Word form together as a creative community, and that is always a very good thing.


Learn more about Purple Word and how to get involved in these places:


or visit with them on a Friday morning between 9AM-noon at their studio location:

160 McTyere Avenue Jackson, MS 39202

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