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"Chronicles The South Through The Eyes Of 63 Photographers"
2002-04-06 until 2002-05-26
Columbia Museum of Art
Columbia, SC, USA

The exhibition articulates the genesis and varied inspirations of a musical form through the faculty of vision and poses questions about the interplay between sight and sound. Eudora Welty, Gordon Parks, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Sally Mann and Henri Cartier-Bresson are among the photographers featured in the exhibition.

Through the photographers’ eyes it is possible to understand many of the cultural characteristics of the South that contribute to the creation of blues music -- the sense that both joy and sorrow are considered high moments in life. The photographs -- energetic and unique in their vibrant color and design sensibility -- are steeped in a profound spirituality and show an inventiveness in the face of deprivation, a tolerance for eccentricity, and a oneness with the landscape of the Delta. The exhibition spans the history of photography from the Civil War to contemporary times and explores various themes that characterize life in the region, such as Love of the Land, At Home and in Town and Religion, Spirituality and the Occult.

We are proud to have developed this important exhibition celebrating the region we love. Visualizing the Blues is an evocative celebration of Southern life, says Jay Kamm, director of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens and organizer of the exhibition. Authors such as William Faulkner, Flannery O’Conner and Katherine Anne Porter have captured the culture of the South in words. We feel the photographs exhibited in Visualizing the Blues express the same feeling.

These images tell the story of the Blues and the South as dynamically as the work of any writer. Matthew Brady’s Civil War images distill four years of horror into single, haunting moments. Eudora Welty’s images of Mississippi in the ‘30s and ‘40s offer a glimpse into the South’s past as well as a vision of the conditions and traditions that have created Mississippi’s future. Walker Evans’ documentation of the South during the WPA era is a significant part of the reason he is remembered as one of the great photographers of the twentieth century. Also, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Alain Desvergnes capture the workings of Southern society with an outsider’s objectivity. Contemporary photographer, Andres Serrano, makes his mark in the exhibition with an intriguing, provocative portrait, and a number of emerging artists add their visual comments to the observations of their predecessors.


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