‘Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art’ Now Open at UM Museum

Latest exhibition traces history of basketry in Africa and America

OXFORD, Miss. – The newest exhibition at the University of Mississippi Museum, “Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art,” is open and runs through Jan. 11, 2013.


“Grass Roots” showcases baskets from the low country of South Carolina and Georgia, as well as from diverse regions of Africa. The exhibition traces the story of coiled basketry from the domestication of rice in Africa through the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Carolina rice plantations and into the present. The exhibition also features basket-making tools and historic rice cultivation artifacts, and shows how the market basket can be viewed simultaneously as a work of art, object of use and container of memory.

Admission to “Grass Roots” is $5 for the general public, $4 for seniors and $3 for students (ages 6-17) is $3. Admission is free for UM students, UM Museum members and children under 5. Special group rates are available for groups wishing to view the exhibit.


“The University Museum is excited to be sharing the story of these remarkably beautiful woven baskets with university audiences and our broader community,” said Robert Saarnio, director of the University Museum and Historic Houses.


In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will offer several activities for audiences of all ages, including a Family Activity Day at 10 a.m. Nov. 17 and a brown bag lecture featuring Deirdre Cooper Owens, UM professor of history, at noon Nov. 30.


“Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art” was made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities and was organized by the Museum for African Art in New York City in collaboration with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston, S.C. It was co-curated by Enid Schildkrout, chief curator of the Museum for African Art, and Dale Rosengarten, curator and historian at the College of Charleston.


The exhibition is toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance through NEH on the Road. Mid-America Arts Alliance was founded in 1972 and is the country’s oldest regional nonprofit arts organization.


“NEH on the Road enables museums like ours to share traveling exhibitions of exceptionally high quality with diverse audiences, and we are proud to be an exhibition partner for this fascinating show,” Saarnio said.


To book a tour, contact Emily Dean or call 662-915-7073.


The University Museum is at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Its hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.