HATTIESBURG – From
the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis to Catfish Row in Vicksburg,
the Delta is revealed as a source of strengths and vulnerability
in The Mississippi Delta, an Intimate View: Photographs by Birney
Imes III. The body of works will be the second part of a unique
photography exhibition at The University of Southern Mississippi
Museum of Art.
The exhibition, on show now through Aug. 13,
originated from a photographic assignment commissioned to photographer
Birney Imes III by the Mississippi Museum of Art in 1978 through
a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Intended as a survey of cotton farming and the
Mississippi Delta, the project quickly grew in scope. Imes intended
to move the viewer through the contrasting pastoral landscapes juxtaposed
against the brutal poverty of the people farming the land.
"It is a culture that grew and flourished
in a climate of racism and poverty," Imes said. "It grew
not so much in spite of this oppression, but in response to it.
This is the culture that spawned the blues."
Traveling through communities like Panther Burn
and Darling, Imes contrasts the beauty of nature surrounded by the
dilapidated juke joints, rusted automobiles and deserted communities
that pepper the landscape.
"Imes felt that the story of the Delta
could be narrated more poignantly through the lives of the people
most affected by the agricultural industry: the discouraged farmers
and their impoverished children," said René Paul Barilleaux,
deputy director for programs for the MMA. "His portraits demonstrate
the strength of character of the people in their plight against
nature and cultural forces beyond their control."
The University of Southern Mississippi Museum
of Art presents this exhibition as an Affiliate Member of the Mississippi
Museum of Art. The Mississippi Museum of Art's Affiliate Network
is funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The museum is located in the Fine Arts Building
on the Southern Miss campus in Hattiesburg. Admission is free and
open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 pm. For more information, call (601)