Ben Watts from Columbia, with wife Lori by his side, received an honorary resolution for his artistic contributions to the state of Mississippi. Here is the text of that resolution:


WHEREAS, on January 11, 2018, William Carey University unveiled the “The Great Physician” statue at the entrance to its College of Osteopathic Medicine.  Artist Ben Watts of Columbia, Mississippi, created the sculpture at the request of Dr. Tommy King and Judge Charles Pickering who wanted a healing Jesus sculpture at the medical school; and

WHEREAS, exhibiting artistic talent as early as primary school when he won his first art contest, Ben Watts began his life in art.  During his teenage years, he pursued photography by building his own darkroom and continued studying that medium throughout his college years at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.  He also studied drawing and painting, preferring his art classes to the ones necessary to earn his BBA in Accounting, in preparation to return home to Columbia to join his father and uncle in the family retail business in 1980; and

WHEREAS, in 1997, Ben discovered his gift for the medium of sculpture; and in 2000, chose to follow his lifelong aspiration of pursuing art as his full-time career.  Since then, Ben has nurtured his gift by studying with some of the most recognized sculptors in America.  These include:  Cowboy Artists, Mehl Lawson and Grant Speed, and Premier Portrait Artist, Blair Buswell.  Ben has shown his work in galleries and art shows all over the country from Scottsdale, Arizona, to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to Lakeland, Florida, and has won numerous awards for his work; and

WHEREAS, Ben creates original wildlife, western and figurative works, as well as commissioned monuments and bronze portraits.  His commissioned portraits include:  NFL great Walter Payton; United States Senator Howell Heflin of Alabama; an 11-foot monument to the memory of legendary Archer Fred Bear for the Wonders of Wildlife Museum at Bass Pro Shops’ Springfield, Missouri, facility; and a larger-than-life John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, for Millsaps College.  Ben has proudly accepted commissions from several higher education institutions around South Mississippi; in recent years, installing a monument of Coach Dobie Holden on the campus of Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Mississippi; a beautiful eagle sculpture for the Alumni Association at the University of Southern Mississippi, and a portrait of William Carey for William Carey University.  He recently finished a portrait of Coach Bull Sullivan for East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Mississippi.  Ben’s work studio is in Columbia, where he is associated with the Columbia Artists Co-Operative and its Artwistic Revolution Gallery; and

WHEREAS, in June 2017, Ricky Scaggs and Brad Paisley unveiled Ben Watts’ Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and Little Jimmy Dickens at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville; and

WHEREAS, Watts said most traditional art, whether painting or sculpture, captures a moment in time with the viewer having to determine what is transpiring, what has transpired, or what is about to transpire.  In “The Great Physician,” two men are seen: one has just been healed of blindness and the other is a cripple, not yet healed.  “It is up to the viewer to believe in the healing power of Jesus and to ask the question of whether Jesus will heal the cripple,” said Watts.  “It was my aim to put into a permanent record those verses in Matthew which say that Jesus healed the blind and the lame.  My aim was also to convey two thoughts:  one to show the power of Jesus healing and the other the hope of Jesus’s presence”; and

WHEREAS, we join William Carey University in saluting the outstanding talent of a Mississippi artist whose national and international work is bringing honor to the artistic traditions of the State of Mississippi:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby recognize the artistic talent of Columbia, Mississippi, Artist Ben Watts whose latest commissioned monument is “The Great Physician” statue at the entrance to the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and extend our best wishes to Ben and his family for future success.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to Ben Watts, forwarded to the President of William Carey University and the Mississippi Arts Commission, and made available to the Capitol Press Corps.