Picturing Mississippi, 1817–2017 Land of Plenty, Pain, and Promise

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Posted in 2016
Harper's Weekly

"PICTURING MISSISSIPPI, 1817–2017, LAND OF PLENTY, PAIN, AND PROMISE" is an exhibit of multi-media art, photography, pottery, sculpture, furniture, maps, books, and movies curated under the auspices of the Mississippi Museum of Art. Of those events commemorating Mississippi's statehood bicentennial, this is a "must" see, offering an invaluable primer and overview of the subjects covered at the Mississippi History and Civil Rights Museums.

The events covered by the exhibit precede Mississippi's admission to the Union by 250 years. The first room includes maps and paintings depicting the explorations of DeSoto, who traveled across present-day Mississippi after landing at Mobile Bay, and his death and burial in the Mississippi River at Greenville in the 16th century. It also covers the explorations of LaSalle, who came down the Mississippi River from what is now Canada and claimed the Louisiana Territory for France in the 17th century.

Each room moves forward in time from the 16th century to the present with works of artists, artisans, and cartographers that portray many of the State's key political and cultural figures or reflect many of its key historical, military, political, and social events as well as its racial and economic conditions. There are master works by artists such as John Audubon, Louis Bahin, Winslow Homer, Thomas Hart Benton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Robert Indiana, Andy Warhol, Walter Anderson, Kate Freeman Clark, William Dunlap, William Eggleston, Sam Gilliam, and Mildred Wolfe.

Under the tireless leadership of Betsy Bradley, Director of the Mississippi Museum of Art, the exhibits bring together works of art about Mississippi from across the nation, many of which are being shown here for the first time. The exhibit is part of the annual Annie Laurie Swain Hearin Memorial Exhibition Series at the Mississippi Museum and is on view now through July 8, 2018.

Take some extra time at lunch and grab a bite to eat at the Museum Café catered by La Brioche, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m, and tour a room or two before you go back to work. Or you can go by one evening before heading home from work and take in one of the many special events where special guests address different works of art on display at the exhibit. Or you can also take an entire Saturday or Sunday afternoon to explore the entire exhibit at one time. Admission is free, and you will be generously rewarded if you take multiple trips to the Museum and explore its multi-layered presentation of our State and its history and people.

If you put off going to the Bicentennial Exhibit until later when you have "more time," you should go online, www.msmuseumart.org, or call the Museum at 601-960-1515 now and ask to be placed on the Museum's email list for its weekly calendar of special events about PICTURING MISSISSIPPI, 1817 – 2017. You can also download the Museum's free Art App for the exhibit on your cell phone and explore the exhibit and hear more about its key works before you even get there. See http://bit.ly/msartshow.


  1. John Henegan is a member of Butler Snow LLP in Ridgeland, Mississippi. He has been a regular contributor to the Newsletter of CABA and of its predecessor, the Hinds County Bar Association.