Horn Island Offers Abundant Beauty And Diverse Wildlife

Published: Jul. 26, 2004 at 9:26 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2004 at 11:52 AM CDT
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The natural beauty of Horn Island must be experienced in person to fully appreciate its depth. Nearly every spot on the island creates its own picture postcard.

As Ocean Springs artist Walter Anderson once wrote about Horn Island, "one image succeeds another with surprising regularity." The artist's island images are among his most celebrated works. Horn Island watercolors represent a significant investment of Anderson's time and talents.

"During the last 15 years of his life, he went out there a lot. He had been there before, but it seemed it became his island of choice after 1950. So, it was very significant. His work, so much of his work has to do with Horn Island. And his logs, so much is written about Horn Island that he does. So, it's a fascinating part of his life," said Pat Pinson, the curator at the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs.

Anderson often rowed the 10 miles or so to Horn Island in a small, wooden boat. Rough seas could make the crossing quite a challenge. But the artist's favorite getaway was well worth the sometimes risky trip.

"Getting there was such an effective, wonderful thing to happen. That it was almost something glorious that he had paid for being able to arrive there," Pinson explained.

It's easy to see how Walter Anderson was so inspired by this wilderness island. Horn Island visitors quickly discover there's an almost limitless opportunity for art on the island. That's why a new generation of artists is following Anderson's lead and finding their own inspiration on the island.

Bill Nelson is senior curator at the Ohr-O'Keefe museum in Biloxi.

"First of all, it's the solitude and quiet. You're pretty much away from everyone and you get to turn inward," he said.

Nelson is among that new generation following Walter Anderson's lead and echoing his love for Horn Island. He's helped organize a series of artist workshops on the island.

"I love the pine trees. The way they just bend and stoop. The way the wind forms them," Nelson explained.

Walter Anderson often crawled or waded through island marshes to get a closer look at wildlife. The birds of Horn Island provided a particular fascination.

"He studies them in the wild so that he knows exactly what their behavior is and he captures not only the way they look, but their character," said Pinson.

"The main thing is that he was trying to identify with the creature. And it could be even a tree for that matter. But certainly a living creature. So, he felt like in a sense by walking in its shoes, you could understand more about nature. And that man and nature needed to be closer together," she said.

Horn Island offers artists the solitude and inspiration to create such a union.

By Steve Phillips