Visitors are invited to the South Arkansas Arts Center’s Merkle and Price Galleries to experience the traveling art exhibit “A Cast of Blues.” The exhibit is free to the public and will be on display at SAAC from 9am to 5pm, Monday-Friday, September 5-October 6. There will be an opening reception for this interactive and hands-on exhibition on Thursday, September 7 from 5:30-7:00pm.
A celebration of Mississippi’s rich musical heritage, “A Cast of Blues” features 15 resin-cast masks of blues-legends created by artist Sharon McConnell-Dickerson, as well as 15 color photographs of performers and of juke joints by acclaimed photographer Ken Murphy. The exhibition’s compilation of casts and photos create a compelling portrait of the men and women who defined—and continue to shape—the tradition of Mississippi blues.
The exhibition is fully accessible to all visitors, featuring braille labels and educational materials as well as a closed-captioned film about the Cast of Blues project. In addition, visitors are encouraged to touch the resin-cast masks. Says McConnell-Dickerson, “As a sculptural and visual art experience, feeling the life-made casts of these individuals and their facial expressions transfers their experiences directly to our fingertips.”
McConnell-Dickerson, who is visually impaired, has said, “a life-cast is like a 3-D photograph to someone who is blind. It captures the flesh, muscle, bone, hair, and subtle expressions of emotion. I wanted to discover the faces behind the music I love, so I went to Mississippi to map out the visages of the real Delta blues men and women.”
Ken Murphy’s photographs are selected from the groundbreaking book Mississippi: State of Blues (published 2010 by Proteus/Ken Murphy Publishing). A longtime Mississippi resident, Murphy captures the essence of the blues through highly detailed, panoramic color pictures.
Organized and toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national part of Mid-America Arts Alliance, “A Cast of Blues” was curated by Chuck Haddix, music historian, author, radio personality, and director of the Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small- and midsized communities every year. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Mid-America is the oldest nonprofit regional arts organization in the United States. More information is available at www.maaa.org and www.eusa.org.
For more information about “A Cast of Blues” exhibit or to schedule a school tour, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474