Museum to Premiere ‘Blues @ Home: Mississippi’s Living Blues Legends’

Multimedia portraits by H.C. Porter showcased with music, oral histories from influential blues talents

Blues at Home

Blues at Home

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum presents “Blues @ Home,” a collection of 30 portraits of Mississippi living blues legends in their at-home settings, all painted by H.C. Porter. The paintings are paired with oral histories, collected by project manager Lauchlin Fields and heard through handheld audio devices, to give insights into the storied lives of the legends.

Porter said she was inspired to create this project while driving through the Mississippi Delta in 2010.

“My idea was to document the living, Mississippi-born (predominately) blues legends in either their home environment, or if they no longer lived in the state, some place that was significant in their career, or had a real sense of place about Mississippi,” Porter said. “Through their personal spaces and oral histories, the legacy of the blues experience in Mississippi and the influence these legends have had on the music of the world is experienced.”

The exhibit, which opens April 1 and runs through Aug. 2, is just one part of a yearlong series of events marking the museum’s 75th anniversary. The museum, which opened as the Mary Buie Museum in 1939, is celebrating its longevity with a variety of events throughout the 2014-2015 anniversary year.

Given the rich history of blues music and culture that emanates from north Mississippi, museum director Robert Saarnio felt compelled to draw the exhibit to Oxford for its debut.

“Porter’s cultural and artistic achievement in celebrating these compelling individuals is extraordinary and beautiful,” Saarnio said. “We’re particularly proud to be the opening venue for a nationally touring exhibition, which will take the stories of our state’s music legends to audiences far and wide. It is a wonderful way to launch a series of events that will mark the museum’s 75 years of exhibition and service to the community.”

“The University of Mississippi Museum has excitedly shared my vision for the ‘Blues @ Home’ exhibition,” Porter added. “The museum grasped the impact a show of this historic content, both through the paintings and recorded oral histories, can have on fellow Mississippians. They were also eager to share it with others from around the country who, they feel, can come to understand our state in a more positive way, experiencing the contribution Mississippi has made to the arts and music of the world.”

“Blues @ Home” comes on the heels of “Backyards & Beyond,” Porter’s powerful body of 81 paintings, also accompanied by the real voices of people featured in the paintings that documented recovery one year after Hurricane Katrina ripped through Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. “Blues @ Home” continues the spirit of that exhibit, sharing stories of passion, strength and talent from the state’s deep connection to the blues.

“Hosting this exhibit is an extraordinary opportunity for the museum, as we believe it has wide appeal across Mississippi and throughout our region,” Saarnio said. “It is no small production. Multiple partners were required to make this exhibition possible, and we are profoundly grateful to the museum’s many friends and supporters for making this happen.”

To produce the exhibit, Porter and crew hit the back roads of Mississippi to interview and photograph living blues legends in their personal environments. In the company of bluesmen including Alphonso Sanders, Tommie T-Bone Pruitt, L.C. Ulmer, Jimbo Mathis and many more, they learned their sorrows, secrets, love stories, family recipes and guitar names.

Porter’s original works of art are classified as mixed media, combining painting, printmaking and photography. A high-contrast black ink image from the original photograph is transferred onto paper using silkscreen, then completed when she hand-paints using acrylic paint to add color and detail. As part of the exhibit, a video featuring the making of “Blues @ Home” will be shown on a loop.

The exhibit’s opening reception is set for 7-9 p.m. April 3, with live music from Cadillac John and Bill Abel. Both Mississippi musicians are featured in “Blues @ Home.” The reception is free and open to the public. Following the reception, there will be an “afterglow” event at Lamar Lounge in Oxford with Jimbo Mathis and other blues musicians.

The University Museum is at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. General admission to this exhibition is $5, admission for seniors (62 and over) is $4 and admission for students (ages 6-17) is $3. Admission is always free for UM students, UM Museum members and children under 5. Special rates exist for tour groups wishing to visit the museum. To book a tour, contact esdean@olemiss.edu. For more information, visit http://museum.olemiss.edu or call 662-915-7073.

‘The Figure: Portrait and Symbol’ Exhibit Opens at University Museum

Works by artist Tom Corbin include paintings and bronze sculptures inspired by the female figure

Tom Corbin's new exhibit features bronze sculptures and paintings inspired by the female figure.

Tom Corbin’s new exhibit features bronze sculptures and paintings inspired by the female figure.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum presents” The Figure: Portrait and Symbol,” featuring works by Tom Corbin. The exhibition opens Tuesday (March 18) and showcases the Kansas artist’s paintings and bronze sculptures with the female figure as his primary muse. The exhibit runs through Aug. 9.

“Corbin’s work evokes a playfulness and the details in his work are lovely and thoughtful,” said Marti Funke, the museum’s collections manager. “This exhibit shows a variety of Corbin’s talents and media.”

Born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1954, Corbin gained an early fascination with art from his mother, an art teacher by trade. Corbin studied painting and drawing at Miami University, but began his career as an advertising executive. He left the advertising industry to pursue a career in art and founded Corbin Bronze in 1986.

Corbin primarily uses the female figure and paints them in everyday intimate environments, making his paintings widely understood by his audience. Other playful elements in his works include cupcakes, poodles, diving boards and elongated ballerinas. His bronze sculptures and paintings are displayed in more than 20 showrooms and galleries internationally.

Celebrity collectors include Alec Baldwin, Jack Nicholson and Nicole Kidman. Corbin’s work has been featured on the sets of the motion pictures “True Lies,” “A Perfect Murder” and “Transformers,” among others.

An opening reception is set for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday (March 25) as part of the Oxford Arts Crawl. In conjunction with the exhibition, an artist’s lecture is slated for 7-9 p.m. Thursday (March 27). Both events are free and open to the public.

The University Museum, at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. General admission to this special exhibition is $5, admission for seniors (62-plus) is $4 and admission for students (ages 6-17) is $3. Admission is always free for UM students, UM Museum members and children under 5. Special rates are available for tour groups wishing to visit.

To book a tour, contact esdean@olemiss.edu. For more information, visit the museum online or call 662-915-7073.

UM Museum to Screen ‘Citizen Architect’

Film documents architects of the Rural Studio, correlates with 'House and Home' exhibit

Citizen Architect

Citizen Architect

OXFORD, Miss. – In conjunction with its exhibition “House and Home,” the University of Mississippi Museum presents the documentary film “Citizen Architect, Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio.”

This film features the late architect Samuel Mockbee and his radical educational design-and-build program known as the Rural Studio. It explores Mockbee’s efforts to provide students with an experience that inspires them to consider how they can use their skills to better their communities.

The film will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 26) in the Speakers Gallery of University Museum. Admission is free and includes a tour of the “House and Home” exhibit. In lieu of an admission fee, donations to the Oxford-Lafayette Habitat for Humanity are encouraged and will be collected at the museum.

The film takes place in Hale County, Ala., home to some of the nation’s most impoverished communities, and home of Auburn University’s Rural Studio. The interviews of other architects infuse the film with discussion of the architect’s role in issues of poverty, class, race, education, social change and citizenship. This film explains what it means to be both a successful professional and a responsible member of society.

Carol Mockbee, daughter of Samuel Mockbee and a student of Rural Studio, will host the film and a post-screen discussion about her father’s work and career. She is the program director at the Mississippi Innocence Project and president of the board of “Thacker Mountain Radio.”

“Our current ‘House and Home’ exhibition considers the subject of American domestic architecture, and the film offers a fascinating corollary in its account of visionary architect Samuel Mockbee, whose Rural Studio at Auburn University transformed the national conversation about designing with residents themselves as the highest consideration,” said Robert Saarnio, museum director.

The University Museum is at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Special group rates exist for tour groups wishing to visit the museum. To book a tour, contact esdean@olemiss.edu. For more information, visit http://museum.olemiss.edu or call 662-915-7073.

‘House and Home’ Exhibit Opens at University Museum

Collection of artifacts and photographs offers a tour of the American home through past and present

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum presents “House and Home, a tour of houses through past and present, to explore the history and progression of the American home. On loan from the National Endowment for the Humanities, House and Home” was originally created and exhibited in the National Building Museum. The UM exhibition runs through March 15.

“House and Home” encourages visitors to explore the idea of what it means to be at home, and how this meaning has changed over time. The exhibit displays entertainment and household items, family portraits, children’s toys, photographs, films and interactive stations to illustrate the progression of the American home.

Read the story …

Start the New Year with ArtZone 2014

ArtZone classes at UM Museum provide education, artistic development for young children

2014 ArtZone program to begin on January 24.

OXFORD, Miss – The New Year summons Oxford-area students to the University of Mississippi Museum‘s ArtZone program. Designed for children in grades K-6, the 12-week program runs from Jan. 28 to April 24 and offers participants an opportunity to explore their own creativity.

“ArtZone is a unique after-school program in that it combines engaging art projects inspired by rarely seen artifacts from our collections with truly enriching educational material,” said Emily Dean, the museum’s curator of education.

Parents can choose Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday classes, all of which run 3:45-5 p.m. Each week, students use inspiration from a museum exhibit or artifact to create their own masterpieces.

“The highlight of the semester is a final reception where student work is exhibited in the museum and families are invited to celebrate the young artists,” Dean said.Read the story …

UM Museum to Create Interactive Learning Space

Grant provides funding for expansion of education programs

Emily Dean (R) reviews plans for the new interactive learning space in the UM Museum with volunteer Tierney Charlton.

OXFORD, Miss. – A recent grant from the Lafayette Oxford Foundation for Tomorrow is helping the University of Mississippi Museum continue to build its educational programming.

The museum plans to use the LOFT grant for $3,993 to create an interactive educational area within its existing classroom space. The goal will be to facilitate discovery and exploration for young museum visitors.

“The museum has seen significant increases in its programming for children and families, reaching more than 11,000 children so far this year,” said Emily Dean, curator of education. “The new interactive area will help us improve the overall experience for these and more children.”

The museum is among six local agencies benefiting from the $14,493 in grants from LOFT. The museum project is slated to be completed by summer 2014. This proposal for the area was generously co-sponsored with a $500 donation from the Friends of the Museum to support the production of Family Learning Guides for young learners visiting the museum.

Read the story …

Santa’s Workshop Arrives at UM Museum

Family activity day provides opportunities to make holiday crafts, decorate a gingerbread house

This years workshop is set for Dec. 7.

OXFORD, Miss – The University of Mississippi Museum will host Santa’s Workshop as its final family activity of 2013. This is one of the most fun and popular events held at the museum each year.

The workshop is set for 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 7. It is free for museum members and $5 per family for non-members.

“One of our most highly-anticipated events of the year, Santa’s Workshop is a fun time for families to get together, be inspired by art from our collections and create winter-themed creations,” said Emily Dean, the museum’s curator of education.

Read the story …

University Museum Unveils 2013 Holiday Keepsake Ornament

Double-decker bus design captures iconic image from Oxford's popular town Square

The 2013 UM Museum keepsake ornament

OXFORD, Miss. – For the 13th year, the University of Mississippi Museum is offering a new keepsake ornament for the holiday season. This year’s design features Oxford’s beloved double decker bus.

The double decker buses were imported from England to Oxford in 1994. They have become established icons in the city of Oxford for their use in events and city tours, including the Oxford Art Crawl, a free monthly art event.

The Double-Decker Bus and the 2012 Walk of Champions ornaments are available for $25, plus tax. All other previous keepsake ornaments are available for $20, plus tax. These designs feature the Barnard Observatory, Old Skipwith House, Brandt Memory House, the Lyceum, Ventress Hall, Lafayette County Courthouse, Oxford City Hall, the Ole Miss Women’s Basketball Jersey, William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak, Theora Hamblett House and Theora Hamblett’s “Christmas Trees.” A set of all 13 keepsake ornaments is available for $240.

Read the story …

‘The Wellspring’ Opens at University Museum

Rome Prize fellow, former UM art teacher Hamlett Dobbins to lecture on works

"The Wellspring"

OXFORD, Miss. – Painter Hamlett Dobbins’ exhibition, “The Wellspring,” a collection of works that draw from a diverse set of experiences with Dobbins’ two children, will be featured at the University of Mississippi Museum through Feb. 22, 2014.

The exhibit opens Tuesday (Nov. 12), and the museum hosts an opening reception for the exhibit from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 14). Dobbins, who is spending this year at the American Academy of Art in Rome as the Rome Prize fellow, will deliver an artist’s lecture at noon Dec. 18 at the museum. All events, including the exhibition, are free and open to the public.

Museum Director Robert Saarnio is also a former Rome Prize fellow and knows what a unique opportunity the fellowship provides for both the artist and the museum community. The Rome Prize is meant to provide inspiration for scholars and artists to engage with the context of the city of Rome and the nation of Italy.

“The Rome experience is a transformative one for the prize-winning fellows,” Saarnio said. “For our audience, it means that we get to hear from a nationally-recognized painter about his body of work on current exhibition.

Read the story …

Museum Family Activity Day Encourages Kooky Art Creation

Families invited to create own masterpieces inspired by works of Ron Dale

Kooky Creations Family Activity Day

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum will host Kooky Creations Family Activity Day this weekend, providing the community with a chance to create quirky art inspired by ceramist Ron Dale.

Dale’s exhibit, “Recollecting: 1980-2012,” is on display at the museum through Jan. 11, 2014, featuring fun, bright pieces that capture the imagination of the young and the young at heart.

Kooky Creations Family Activity Day is set for 10 a.m.-noon Saturday (Nov. 2) at the museum. All activities are designed for families with children (ages 2+) to do together. This event is free to all UM Museum members and $5 per family for nonmembers. The fee includes materials, as well as a tour of the exhibit.

“One part of Ron Dale’s exhibit that appeals to viewers of all ages is his immense imagination,” said Emily Dean, the museum’s education curator. “During this family activity day, our education team will work with families to make their own 3-D creations inspired by the imaginative distortions and playful qualities of the exhibit.”

For more information about Kooky Creations Family Activity Day, contact Emily Dean at esdean@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7073.

The University Museum is at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. For more information, visit http://museum.olemiss.edu or call 662-915-7073.