Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rebirth Workshops in the Delta -- Updated

South Carolina's Kathleen Robbins sends word that photographers Sarah Hodzic, Chris Williams, Will Jacks, and Laura Beth Lott offer photography workshops and retreats in the Mississippi Delta under the name Rebirth Workshops in the Visual Arts. 

You can see work produced by the folks in one of these workshops here.  There is exceptionally strong work on view.

Hodzic, Williams, Jacks, and Lott all have deep roots in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Will Jacks writes for the group about the Delta setting for their workshops in the language of someone who knows where he lives and knows how he deals with the challenges and opportunities of making photographs in that place.

Here is what he says:

“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.” ~William Faulkner

"I’m not sure if Mr. Faulkner’s words are true or not. I hope they are. I want them to be. What I do know is that this state, the Mississippi Delta particularly, is rich in culture and artistic heritage.

"Writers, painters, musicians, photographers, actors – many of the most talented and accomplished American artists – attribute their influences to this area. The Delta is known primarily for its fertile soil, but the work of folks like Faulkner, Walker Percy, Eudora Welty, William Eggleston, Robert Johnson (the list is endless, really) shows that this region fosters the creative spirit and its growth.

"Perhaps it is the wide open expanses of flat land that entice our curiosity. It could be that to bide our time we must generate our own entertainment. Or maybe it’s simply that we prefer to create our own adventures rather than rely on someone else to do it for us. I read somewhere once that a free spirit needs room to wander, and goodness knows we have lots of room and lots of wandering. Creating is a way of life here. It’s how we earn our living. It’s how we pass the time. It’s how we define ourselves.

"Take a lazy drive down Highway 61 and you’ll not only see it all around you, but my bet is that you’ll feel it too. Highs. Lows. Life. Death. Joy. Sorrow. Energy. Expression.

"Ours is a land of contrast, and it’s that contrast that lets you know you’re human. Lets you know you’re alive. In an interesting case of the dog-chasing-its-tail, a rock-and-a-hard-place, the-chicken-or-the-egg (you get the point) a former art teacher once told our class, “To be alive is to create, and in order to create you must know what it’s like to be alive.” 

"I suppose that’s what Mr. Faulkner meant when he wrote the words above."

Now, that's someone I really might learn from about making art in Mississippi. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi John -

    I'm so thrilled you've written about the Rebirth Workshop; I attended this year for the first time. I'm not even sure where to begin with talking about my experience there. I've been to a lot of workshops - but none that got to the very core of the creative process like this one.

    Before we arrived Sarah, Will and Chris asked us to complete assignments so they understood where we were in our artistic development, and clearly spent a lot of time knowing what each of us wanted to work on before we ever stepped foot in Clarksdale.

    Coming from New England everything was conducive to the workshop; the landscape, the people, the peace. We worked like crazy to create one image that represented transformation and at the end of the week our work hung in at the Gallery @ Wiljax in Cleveland, Mississippi. (Our finished pieces are here if you'd like to see them: The range of mediums we all chose to create our final pieces varied; medium format, wet-plate, digital, infra-red. I was proud to be part of that show.

    I can't say enough about my experiences and I can't wait to return. Thank you for bringing attention to something I hold so dear!