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Jackson, MS 39201

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#VaultVantage - Crop Rotation

By Caitlin Podas, Registrar

My first job in Mississippi was at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. What does an Orange County native and art aficionado know about agriculture, you may ask? Not a whole lot. But, I was fresh out of grad school and wanted to put my education to use and the Ag Museum took a chance and hired me as their Collections Specialist. Thanks to the other Ag Museum staff and a reference book or two, I learned how to identify different kinds of plows, wood planes, wagons, tractors…the list goes on.

I didn’t think my new-found knowledge of agricultural artifacts would come in handy at the art museum, but it just so happens that we have a large collection of works that depict agricultural scenes. Several of them are in the Mississippi Story exhibition, but we also have a number of prints and drawings by Thomas Hart Benton who pioneered the American Regionalist movement. The movement glorified rural American scenes and rejected avant-garde...

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Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 by MMA

Mississippi Story Mondays - Marie Hull

Credit Line: Marie Hull (1890-1980), Sharecroppers, 1938, oil on canvas.

This double portrait is of two men who served as models for approximately twenty paintings that Marie Hull accomplished during the thirties. Marie Hull was the only Mississippi artist invited to exhibit in the Golden Gate Exposition in 1939 in San Francisco.

The sharecropper paintings evolved naturally. The Depression, spring floods and crop failure all contributed to the dire conditions in which these noble men found themselves. They were going around Jackson sharpening scissors or doing any other day labor that might provide a little money. They were people of integrity and character who were down on their luck. Hull commented, “They were, I think, among the finest things I’ve ever done, but I was doing them for quality, not sentimental appeal.”

From “The Art of Marie Hull”, by Malcolm Norwood, Virginia MgGehee Elias and William S. Haynie.

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Posted on Monday, December 15, 2014 by MMA

Mississippi Story Mondays - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Credit Line: Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), William Faulkner, 1947, gelatin silver print.

The French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, took photos using the gravity of art during the 1940’s and ‘50’s.

“My passion,” he wrote in 1994, “has never been for photography itself, but for the possibility-through forgetting yourself-of recording in a fraction of a second the emotion of a subject, and the beauty of the form.”

His portraits are known for bringing personalities to life by merging the complexity of psychologies with the economy of formal elegance. Skillfully zeroing in on gestures and glances, he captures movement in time- and subjects set in environments charged with aesthetic tension. He masterfully connects observation with feeling and a remarkable sense of how to construct a picture.

“To take photographs,” he once said, “...is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.”

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Posted on Monday, December 8, 2014 by MMA

Mississippi Story Mondays - Give Thanks for Art

Credit Line: Tina Mason (dates unknown), Hunter’s Paradise, no date. oil on board. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art. Gift of the artist. 1954.010. As we reflect on Thanksgiving week and the holidays ahead, this painting’s festive fall colors and bounty represent all that there is to be thankful for; art, turkey, and family!

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Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 by MMA

30 Years, a Yazoo City Baseball Diamond, and a Bouldin Portrait

​Last Friday was the Museum’s annual Rembrandt Society Dinner, where we thank some of our most dedicated supporters and members. It was a wonderful evening to reflect on why arts and cultural institutions are so important to the state. And while there is plenty of quantitative evidence of the Museum’s activity and success, there was another, more human exemplar of its relevance. Melvin Johnson, a thirty year veteran of MMA and part of the preparatory team that cares for and hangs the art here, was a special guest at the dinner - in recognition of his contributions to this place but also so that his portrait, painted by celebrated artist Jason Bouldin, could be unveiled.

Melvin spoke about his career, both during the dinner and the week leading up to it. About how it started back in the ‘80s when he was asked by Chief Preparator (and high school classmate) L.C. Tucker to help frame and prepare a few artworks for an upcoming show. “That project never ended,” said Melvin. ...

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Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 by MMA

Pixelizing the Tangible

The Museum is currently underway on a comprehensive digitization process to catalog the works in its collection. The ultimate potential uses for such a resource are endless, from making work available to the wider public in the nearby community to broadening the reach of works in the collection to scholars across the globe.

Mark Geil, professor of photography at Jackson State University, is executing this ambitious task. He sees his work not only as meticulous and measured, but colored with mystery and humanity. “I’m definitely seeing some of my heroes,” says Geil. “Lee Friedlander and William Eggleston and Birney Imes. I’m a photographer so I’m drawn to the photographers. I have to make myself keep going rather than staring at a print and being lost in its presence.”

At any given time, most of the works in any museum’s collection are not on view. The Mississippi Story, for example, displays close to 300 of the Museum’s artworks and artifacts, but another 5,000 are in...

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Posted on Monday, November 24, 2014 by MMA

#VaultVantage - Alfred Hutty OR “having a moment with a painting”

By Caitlin Podas, Registrar

When you are a graduate student and writing a thesis, your topic usually takes over your life. I can fully attest to that statement. I wrote my graduate school thesis about Edwin A. Harleston, an African American portrait painter, who was active in Charleston, SC in the 1920s. For the last year of my program Mr. Harleston and the other southern artists that were active during the Charleston Renaissance occupied my every thought. It’s been about two years since I graduated now, but my topic still seems to be a part of my life; probably because I work in an art museum in the South, go figure.

Last week as I was putting new acquisitions away in the Vault, I noticed the label on another artwork that brought me back to my graduate school days. I had stumbled upon Alfred Hutty’s In Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, S.C. which has been in the Museum’s collection since the Museum was the Mississippi Art Association. The painting and I had what can only be described as ‘a...

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Posted on Thursday, September 4, 2014 by MMA

#VaultVantage: Edd Lambdin Folk Art

By Caitlin Podas, Registrar

Most of the Museum’s collection of folk art is stored in one cabinet, which is both entertaining and terrifying. Every time I open that cabinet I notice something else staring back at me, because most of the art has eyes. One day it’s a gigantic wooden badger, another day it’s an anthropomorphic elephant or a severed cow’s head, and the next it’s a contemporary earthenware face jug. Today it was a monkey riding a two headed horse. The monkey and his steed caught my eye mostly because they are both such bright colors, but also because they look so animated. It seems like they jumped out of a children’s fairytale and right into our vault.

The artist, Edd Lambdin, is a native Kentuckian and started making objects around 1980 both for his own amusement and for his nieces and nephews. Lambdin makes his sculptures out of pieces of wood he finds when he explores the forest, but some elements are...

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Posted on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 by MMA

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