Monday, February 27, 2017

MMT Revealed! Margaret Walker!

The famous educator's name is Margaret Walker! 

Margaret Walker wrote the neo-slave narrative Jubilee, which the Washington Post called “the first truly historical black American novel." Based on the life of her own great grandmother during and after the Civil War, Jubilee, published in 1966, took 30 years to write and research.

Described by poet Nikki Giovanni as the "most famous person nobody knows," Margaret Walker participated in nearly every important African American literary movement in 20th century.  A Birmingham native, Walker was inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and during the Depression, she joined Chicago WPA Writers Project and working alongside the likes of Saul Bellow, Frank Yerby, Gwendolyn Brooks and Richard Wright. As a result of her friendship with Wright, Walker published Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man, a Critical Look at His Work in 1988.

In 1942 when Margaret Walker’s poetry collection For My People won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, "she became one of the youngest Black writers ever to have published a volume of poetry in this century," as well as "the first Black woman in American literary history to be so honored in a prestigious national competition," noted Richard K. Barksdale in Black American Poets between Worlds, 1940-1960.

After completing her master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Iowa in 1942, Walker became a professor at Jackson State University where she established the Institute for the Study of the History, Life and Culture of Black People in 1968. She worked as the director of the program for 11 years and later it would be renamed in her honor. During the '60s Walker was an outspoken political activist and a mentor to a new generation of writers in the Black Arts movement including Nikki Giovanni. Also during this period Walker then toured, lectured, and worked on For Farish Street Green, February 27, 1986 (1986) and This is My Century: New and Collected Poems (1989).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Special Guest Blogger: Library Sloth and Archives and Special Collections February Bicentennial Video

From the Library Sloth:

"When people think about Mississippi's musical heritage, they often think about the blues or Elvis. While they are shining stars in the American and Southern cultural firmament, Mississippi has made many contributions to all areas of music. In this month's video Blues Curator Greg Johnson shares some of those vital contributions and talks about what's on display in the Faulkner Room at JD Williams Library. Click here to learn more about what's going on at Archives and Special Collections and to see our first video from January!"

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Museum TAKEOVER: Which Mississippi Educator Authored "the first truly historical black novel"?

Hello! I'm the Library Sloth and I'm taking over the Museum! Well, not the whole Museum, just the Museum Education blog! 

Like the Museum said last week, Archives and Special Collections has been working very hard to commemorate Mississippi's 200th Birthday! We saw your Monday Museum Mysteries and knew we couldn't let you have all the fun! 

Once a month in 2017, I'll be taking over the Museum's Education Blog to share things from our collection! Hopefully you'll get to see even more cool stuff and come visit me at JD Williams Library! 

For our first takeover, we're celebrating Black History Month! While most famous for her poetry and academic work at Jackson State University, this Mississippi author wrote in a number of different mediums: poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

These are some of the books this author published in the course of her life, any clue who she might be? 

Can you think of other Mississippi authors, who wrote across different mediums (poetry, fiction, non-fiction, etc)? Head over to JD Williams or the Oxford-Lafayette First Regional Public Library and ask a librarian who their favorite Mississippi author is and if they can recommend any more good books for Black History Month! 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Classroom Connections: Ordinary is the New Extraordinary: A Review of “The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggelston”

The following piece came to us from Cynthia Joyce's Journalism and Cultural Criticism class and was originally published to The following is re-published with permission from the author, Madison Heil, a senior, Broadcast Journalism major from Mandeville, Louisiana. 

The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston is on display until this Saturday, February 18th. 

Ordinary is the New Extraordinary: A Review of “The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggelston”

“Look at an Eggleston photograph once and you are forever altered. Suddenly, you are in it. It is in you.”-Megan Abbott, Guest Curator, author
That is just one of the four large quotes printed on the wall as you begin the tour of William Eggleston’s exhibit at the University of Mississippi Museum. The words provide instant insight into what you are about to see, ordinary photographs that tell the extraordinary stories of the lives we live.
A native of the Mississippi Delta, William Eggleston is known for photographing scenes of the South, but doesn’t consider himself a “southern” photographer. His work tells a simple narrative about the way of life. In the UM Museum’s exhibit “The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston,” 36 photographs from his collection come alive before your eyes as you get a glimpse into the life behind Eggleston’s lens.
The exhibit is displayed across two rooms; the walls are a dark purple and the lighting is low. All you’re surrounded by are the white-framed photographs. Black and white — how Eggleston’s photographs started out before he revolutionized the modern art world with his color photography. The colored photographs seem to jump out at you, and two caught my eye.
The first — actually not colored but for good reason — is Untitled from 1964–65. The setting is a fast food restaurant (Taco Bell I believe) with the focus on one man sitting at the counter. There are three others in the background, all frozen in time. My first though was, “What is he eating,” and then I looked at the man closer and wondered, “What is he thinking?” The man holds a dazed-like, gloomy expression on his face just going through the motions. And the black and white print matches the mood of the photograph; in color it wouldn’t feel the same.
Untitled, 1964–65, William Eggleston, University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses
At first glance, you might not see the point in a photograph like this — or any of his photos for that matter — but that’s just it. As a democratic photographer, Eggleston saw everything, everyone, every place as an opportunity for a photograph, in the same light. This photo tells a story, gives a glimpse, into everyday life — not the glamorous moments most might expect to see, but the ordinary ones, and that’s okay. I feel as if through these frozen snapshots, you learn that the lives we live are extraordinary, not matter how dull, boring, or black and white they may seem.
The second photograph, in contrast is colored. It is a piece from the “Election Eve” project out of Plains, Georgia in 1976 also Untitled. He took the photographs for the project on his way to Plains, GA from Mississippi and while he was there on the eve of the 1976 Presidential Election. A lot of the photos from this project are scenery, no people, like the ruins of the burned shack. Life exists outside of people and the photos show in this project show it. The one I liked is a still abandoned pile of bricks and debris from what used to stand there, and election or not it wasn’t going anywhere. Aside from the busy happenings involving a new president getting elected, life was still happening.
Untitled, 1977, William Eggleston, University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses
The photograph doesn’t say much about the election itself, as one might assume from the title of the project. Rather, it shows what was in existence at the time. You can see the meaningful use of color in this print as the red brick stands loudly against the green grass and patches of dirt. If black and white it would all blend together. For me, the color shows a hint of life in what otherwise would seem like dull, boring nothing. Color gives these photos the life Eggleston was trying to capture.
In all of the 36 photographs displayed, ordinary becomes the new extraordinary. All of the memories frozen in time show the moments of life, anyone’s life, American life; and whether the moments are of sorrow, trouble, abandonment or laughter, they all tell their own unique story, ones that we all experience.
The exhibit will be at the UM Museum until February 18th, 2017. If you’re days seem fairly ordinary to you, stop by to gaze at the extraordinary.

Museum Happenings: Library Sloth Comes for a Visit!

Look who we found hanging around the Museum! 

This the Library Sloth; he lives in Archives and Special Collections and said he wanted to come visit US because of the work we're doing related to Mississippi's Bicentennial! He told us Archives and Special Collections have also been hard at work commemorating our state's 200th Birthday and wanted us to share what they've been up to!

Mississippi: 200 Years of Statehood is on display through December 11, 2017 at in the Faulkner Room at JD Williams Library. The exhibit features a wide array of items including 18th century maps, historical textbooks, territorial documents, women's suffrage and civil rights memorabilia! Open 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday (except for University holidays) this exhibit is a can't miss! 
Did you know it takes 6 to 8 MONTHS for Archives and Special Collections to develop their exhibits? Be sure to stop by and see all their hard work!
Archives and Special Collections has also partnered with University Communications to produce monthly videos related to objects in the exhibit. Their first video with Blues Curator Greg Johnson about Southern folklore and expressions will leave you happier than a opossum eating a sweet tater! 

Finally, even after this bicentennial celebration, you can keep getting fascinating updates about Mississippi History and Special Collections by following them on Facebook and their library blogs. Two of our favorites are This Week in Mississippi History and the Blues: From the Archive! We'll try to keep you updated on some of the other things going on with this wonderful partner in our monthly Museum Happenings

It took the Library Sloth a while to get all the way out here, but he brought us a gift that he said he'll share with us later. What a considerate sloth! Check back Monday to see what he brought us! 

Monday, February 13, 2017

MMM Revealed! Seymour Lawrence

MMM Revealed! Happy Belated Birthday, Seymour Lawrence! 

Seymour Lawrence believed in JP Donleavy's work so much, that he was basically fired from The Atlantic after fighting for them to publish "The Singular Man". Doubting his independent publishing company after a rocky start, JP Donleavy showed Lawrence his appreciation and support when he said "All you need to be a publisher is one room, one desk, one phone and one author. I'll be that author" 

Seymour Lawrence moved to Oxford, MS after he visited Barry Hannah and fell in love with the town. The University of Mississippi Grisham Writer-in-Residence now lives in his old house near Rowan Oak. Seymour Lawrence's Collection of Contemporary American Art is on permanent display, so come and visit us to see the rest of the collection today!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Special Guest Blogger: Amanda Malloy

The UM Museum has just a few weeks left of the special exhibit, The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston, which closes February 18, 2017. In honor of this exhibit and in light of the recent passing of renowned photographer William Christenberry, our Special Guest Blogger Amanda Malloy explores these two photographic icons in today's blog post.

Amanda Malloy is a recent graduate of the Southern Studies Master of Arts program at the University of Mississippi. Her Master's thesis was on William Eggleston. She currently works at Rowan Oak, the historic home of William Faulkner, and is the Visual Arts Editor for Mississippi Folklife, an online publication of the Mississippi Arts Commission. 

            In an interview with William Ferris in 1976, William Eggleston said, My work is about the New South. Largely photographing in Memphis, Tennessee where he resides, Egglestons images capture a changing and developing region, a South of strip malls, fast food chains, and advertising. Eggleston goes on to say, There are a lot of new buildings down there and new roads. There are not many new people down there. A lot of them have left. [...] There is still a lot of work to be done in the South, and I have just scratched the surface. Of course, the South of the past exists in Egglestons photographs, where there is decay and old family homes and maybe even a twinge of nostalgia, but Egglestons images dont dwell on the past. One of the things that makes Egglestons photographs so remarkable is that he can take these seemingly mundane landmarks of new development like parking lots and billboards and make them mysterious and intriguing, imbuing them with a sense of emotion.

Eggleston, Willliam. Untitled, 1977. Taken as part of the "Election Eve" series. 

            William Christenberry, who was a close friend of William Eggleston and who sadly passed away November of 2016, also spoke to William Ferris about the subject of his photographs which largely capture rural architecture in Hale County, Alabama where Christenberry grew up: I am attracted to things that are decaying, that are rapidly vanishing from the landscape in the South. [...] I find old things more beautiful than the new, and I go back to them every year until sooner or later they are gone. They have blown away, burned, fallen down, or just simply disappeared. Christenberrys images often seem haunted and far removed from human presence. His photographs act as portraits of the buildings he portrays, as if the structures are personified with their own feelings and personalities.

Christenberry, William. Providence Methodist Church, Perry Co., Alabama, 1974

            These two artists, in terms of method, could not be more different. Eggleston photographs democratically as he once put it, meaning that not only does he give equal attention to all subjects, both grand and mundane, but he also rarely captures the same subject more than once. Christenberry, on the other hand, photographed his subjects repeatedly, returning to the same buildings and viewpoints over many years. The different methods in which the two artists photograph influence their individual aesthetics. Egglestons photographs portray private and fleeting moments in time, while Christenberrys images  largely convey a more methodical interpretation of his subjects, as if he is deeply familiar with every brick and slab of wood.

Christenberry, William. Window, Mills Hill, Hale County, Alabama, 1973

            William Eggleston and William Christenberry are two very different and distinct artists, yet similarities are apparent in their photographic interpretations of rural architecture. Both are skilled at photographing rural buildings with a head-on approach, capturing the overall feeling of a structure while placing it within the landscape. Yet both also tend to play around with angles, depth, and line, focusing on specific architectural and decorative attributes. By experimenting with depth and placement, the photographers give meaning to these structures. They are not merely relics of a long-gone past, or quaint landmarks of a rural South. The rural structures in Eggleston and Christenberrys photographs show in their wear not only past interactions, but continued change and deterioration in a landscape that is also changing. Eggleston and Christenberrys photographs prove that these structures are still alive, and still have stories to tell.

Events Associated with The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston

Tomorrow, February 10, at the Museum, at 12pm, Anne Tucker, Curator Emerita of the Houston Museum of Fine Art will be giving a brown bag lecture entitled William Eggleston, Not Southern? (Date changed due to weather delay). 

On February 14th, at the Lyric Theatre, from 6-8pm, Oxford Film Festival kicks off with a screening of William Eggleston in the Real World. Director Michael Almereyda will participate in a post-screening Q&A. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday Museum Mystery: Who Published this Artist and Author?

Irish-American author JP Donleavy originally wanted to be an artist. After serving in the US Navy he attended Trinity College in Dublin and began showing his work around Ireland. After three successful shows, he attempted to break into the London art scene, but changed his mind after he was rejected for not being famous enough!

Untitled (Snake) 1989
JP Donleavy, b. 1926

He believed no one could "hold off" or prevent other people from seeing his writing, but unfortunately, his first book was banned in the United States until the unedited version was published by this man in 1965. Besides being Donleavy's friend, our curators believe this publisher might have been impressed with Donleavy's versatility and perseverance, leading him to buy Donleavy's drawings.

Cemetery Under Crescent Moon
JP Donleavy, b. 1926

Do you know who this publisher might be? How would you react if you were in a situation like Mr. Donleavy? What are some good strategies for overcoming challenges?

Top: Untitled (Blue Crow)
Bottom: Untitled (Blue Animal)
JP Donleavy, b. 1926

Thursday, February 2, 2017

February Museum Happenings!

Classes are back in session at the University of Mississippi, our education team is assembled, Art Zone is back in action, and we are looking forward to a busy month ahead!
Our dedicated team of Education Volunteers and Staff

February Museum Public Educational Programming
Click the links to find out more information! 

Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 (Drop-in/Self-guided) First Friday Free Sketch Day

Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, Come visit us for story time at the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library!  (FREE, @ library)

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, 3:45-4:30 p.m. (ages 2-5  w/ adult) Mini Masters @ the Powerhouse
($5 per family)

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, 7 p.m. Lecture: "William Eggleston, Not Southern?" presented by the Friends of the Museum

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, 10-noon (drop in, children must be accompanied by a parent) On the Silk Road Family Activity Day
(FREE, all ages)

Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Middle School and Teen Museum Milkshake Mash-Up
(FREE, grades 6-12)

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, 6-8 p.m. Film Screening: William Eggleston in the Real World, sponsored by the Friends of the Museum and the Lyric
(@ the Lyric)

February 23, 2017, 3:45-4:30 p.m. (ages 2-5  w/ adult) Mini Masters @ the Museum

In addition to these programs we look forward to sharing the Museum with the following groups: 

Scott Center, Leap Frog, Art 101, UM Journalism students, EDHE classes, Art History, UM Illustration, Honors College courses, Jonestown Community center, Pontotoc Middle School, Della Davidson Elementary, Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library, Leap Frog, Oxford High School Writing Marathon, North Delta School, Residents of The Blake, Oxford Moms and Tots, Boy Scouts, and more! 

Interested in scheduling a group tour or traveling trunk? Contact Emily McCauley at or 662-915-7205