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University gifts painting to daughter of renowned artist, TROY professor

TROY First Lady Janice Hawkins presented the daughter of famed artist Woodi Ishmael with one of his original paintings.

TROY First Lady Janice Hawkins presented the daughter of famed artist Woodi Ishmael with one of his original paintings.

When Candi Ishmael Buist was a girl, she watched her father, Woodi, paint a picture inside his studio at their home in Larchmont, N.Y. For decades, she never saw the picture again.

Thanks to Troy University, that childhood memory is now immortalized for her.

TROY First Lady Janice Hawkins presented Buist with the painting at the unveiling of the Heritage Exhibition inside the Huo Bao Zhu Gallery at the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park.

Woodi Ishmael, a renowned illustrator, taught classes at the University for years and apparently left the painting behind.

It was eventually rediscovered by staff in the Department of Art and Design.

“I remember him painting this picture in his studio at our house,” Buist said. “It’s just him. I didn’t think I’d ever see that picture again. When I saw it here, I burst into tears.”

Pam Allen, chair of the Department of Art and Design, said Buist initially requested a copy of the painting.

“Mrs. Hawkins got in touch with Candi and she asked for a copy of this,” Allen said. “I couldn’t in good conscience say we should keep this and give a copy to her. It should be the other way around. Woodi Ishmael was a really prominent instructor here, a key figure in the history of this university.”

Buist said her father, whose long career included time as a military illustrator, loved his tenure at TROY.

“It was toward the end of his career,” she said. “He came down here to teach, because that was his favorite thing to do – teach. That’s what he did until the day he left here. My mother and father both loved Troy – the camaraderie at the University, the people they met, it was just wonderful.”

As a painter and illustrator, Ishmael drew a weekly syndicated column for the Associated Press Newsfeatures called “The Power of Faith” and served as an official artist for the U.S. Air Force. He also sailed as artist-in-residence on major ocean lines to deliver art lectures and demonstrations, and officiated as the only courtroom artist at the Jack Ruby trial.

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