Duke's Nasher Museum of Art is about to open a major exhibition of work entitled Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art.
Southern Accent will feature work by 60 artists working in a variety of media, but including among them a significant number of photographers.
Folks at the Nasher describe the show as one that "questions and explores the complex and contested space of the American South.
"One needs to look no further than literature, cuisine and music to see evidence of the South’s profound influence on American culture, and consequently much of the world.
"This unprecedented exhibition addresses and complicates the many realities, fantasies and myths that have long captured the public’s imagination about the American South.
"Presenting a wide range of perspectives, from both within and outside of the region, the exhibition creates a composite portrait of southern identity through the work of 60 artists.
"The art reflects upon and pulls apart the dynamic nature of the South’s social, political and cultural landscape."
Included among the photographers with work in this show are such familiar names as William Christenberry, William Eggleston (see image three images below), Deborah Luster (see image at the top of this post), Sally Mann (see image directly above), Richard Misrach, Gordon Parks, Tom Rankin (see image directly below), Burk Uzzle (see image two images below), Carrie Mae Weems (see image four images below), and Jeff Whetstone.
This show promises to be a major event in the exploration of the Southern in contemporary art, as well as an opportunity to discuss the relationship between photography and other visual art forms in the depiction, documentation, and meaning-making of the American South.
This exhibition is co-organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.
The curators note that "The exhibition has been four years in the making, but the timing of Southern Accent is especially meaningful now – in the wake of Charleston, Orlando, Baton Rouge and countless other tragedies, and given the tense social and racial climate during this presidential election year.
"We’re an art museum, so exhibitions are our platform for starting conversations.
"We hope Southern Accent can create a space to reimagine the South in new ways and reframe the way we think about the South in contemporary art. At its best, art can help give shape to cultural and social change, promote needed discourse and even help build community.”
The Nasher is planning a number of events to celebrate this show, including a party on August 31st, from 7 to 10 pm, featuring a performance by artist Sonya Clark, a Second-line
parade with the John Brown Band, live musical performances by Justin Robinson and shirlette ammons and a DJ dance party. There is a full calendar of events here.
Even if you cannot get to Durham (or later, to Louisville) for the show, the Nasher is making much of the event available to everyone through a variety of media.
You can see images of all the work in this show if you go here. There are recordings of Southern music and podcasts about the show here. There is a reading list of novels and books about the South, here.
I'm especially happy to see that Jill McCorkle, my colleague in the English Department hre at NC State, is one of the featured writers in this series.
Finally the show's catalogue Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art is being published, and is for sale from the Nasher's Museum Shop, here.
The catalogue promises to be a chunkster at 276 pages. The folks at the Nasher promise it "offers a robust expansion of investigations raised by works in the exhibition, with texts from myriad perspectives, ranging from groundbreaking scholarship to poetry, song lyrics and personal reflections."
My congratulations to the folks at the Nasher for putting together what promises to be a major exhibition, and a tribute to the talents and vision of Southern artists, photographers included.
This is a must-see show for the fall. Southern Accent will be up at the Nasher through January 8th, 2017.
It will then travel to Kentucky, where it will be on display at Louisville's Speed Art Museum, where it will be on view April 29 – August 20, 2017.