This year marks the 10th event of the biennial exhibit.
Julian Rankin, the museum's director of marketing and communications, says the goal for the invitational upon its founding in 1997 was to do a survey of contemporary art around the state.
"The whole point was to give every Mississippi artist a platform to be showcased and then to do it in a way that included everybody and also had someone come from outside the state to discover what we have here," he says.
After artists submit pieces to the invitational, a guest curator from outside Mississippi looks at the work and then does studio visits all over the state to examine the artwork up close.
This year's curator is Marisa Pascucci, the curator of collections at the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida.
Pascucci has been at that museum for a little more than four years. She first started her career in museum education but then realized that she wanted to work more intimately with artists and their art work, so she went into curation.
She used to work for current MMA Deputy Director and Chief Curator Roger Ward at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Fla., and she says they stayed in contact over the years, so this year he invited her to be the guest curator.
After curating this exhibition and ones for the All Florida statewide art survey at the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida, Pascucci says she has noticed how different the art is from 15 or 20 years ago.
"In the last five, 10, years, these regional statewide exhibitions are really no longer type-cast by a certain type of art or a certain image ... or composition or subject matter that comes to the art," Pascucci says. "If you were to look at a Florida show 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago, it definitely would have been filled with, like, pink flamingos and beach scenes.
"That's just not the case anymore. It seems that artists are definitely moving more, just as the world is moving, more connected globally, and so is the artwork. Now there (are) definitely images in the exhibition that were selected that are landscapes of Mississippi, but it's just still all very global, and it's not something that's just pigeonholed to somebody from being from Mississippi, or you have to be from Mississippi to appreciate it."
From the more than 100 pieces submitted to the invitational, 18 artists are in the exhibition. They are eligible to apply for The Jane Crater Hiatt Artist Fellowship, which is a grant of up to $15,000 awarded to an artist who can use it to study with a specific artist or in a studio, workshop or residency setting, or to pursue projects, conduct research or travel.
The museum will announce the recipient Jan. 13, 2017.
The 2016 Mississippi Invitational will be at the Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601.960.1515) from Dec. 17, 2016, to March 11, 2017. On Saturday, Jan. 14, Pascucci, Jane Crater Hiatt and the 2016 Hiatt fellowship recipient will participate in a free panel discussion, which Ward will moderate.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets to the exhibition are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for students. Children under 5 and museum members get in free. For more information, visit msmuseumart.org.