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Released June 2, 2005


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) 266-5200.


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July 22, 2005 2:20 PM