Future blog posts will share images from Saturday’s visit to Dirt Roads Pottery in Edinburg, Mississippi, and Chahta Immi Cultural Center in Pearl River, Mississippi. For now, here are a couple of off-kilter snapshots from the road.
That tightly curled hair on the head of Elayne Goodman’s subject (see yesterday’s post) is not far from what many girls and women in the 1930s desired so much that they would go to a beauty parlor and pay to be hooked up to what looks like a torture device. I came across the electric Sanders Permanent Wave machine in this photograph at the Oren Dunn City Museum, Tupelo. Electrical currents passed through wires, thus creating enough heat to keep the ladies’ hair curled, if not permanently, then at least until the next appointment.
(If you do an internet search for Sanders Permanent Wave machines, you’ll see circa 1930s photographs of small girls who must be all of five years old seated at the beauty parlor, connected to one of these machines, their mothers smiling and waiting for their own, darling little Shirley Temples to emerge.)
Can hair-dos be considered art? Have you seen any masterful heads of hair lately? In Victorian times, people made jewelry from hair to remember their loved ones. Horse hair was expertly woven into upholstery cloth. Do you know anyone who makes art using hair?
Who wouldn’t want to meet the artist behind this bright jewel? Until I can get to Columbus to meet Elayne Goodman, I’ll just share this from her artist statement, compliments of Caron Gallery, Tupelo, which I visited recently:
The genesis of her art style comes from her childhood in rural Mississippi. In the depression era, Elayne had limited materials and time for creativity; she learned to waste neither.”
Working with “used materials,” Elayne Goodman’s production fits into several different categories of visual art. The sculptures I saw at Caron Gallery included a column of cookie tins and other bright, shiny objects; candlesticks painted with dashes and dots of color; and a piece that looked like a wedding cake for the Mad Hatter. I’ve seen her quilted books at the Attic Gallery in Vicksburg, and then there are framed works like Sewphie, 2014, in which a woman wears a spectrum of colored spools of thread as a hat and a bib of painted scissors. Vibrant colors, found objects, three-dimensionality, and whimsy seem to be common threads in her creations.
As I learn more about Elayne Goodman, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with artists whom you find interesting or if you run across an interesting work of art, even if you’re not sure if others would consider it art.
I can be reached via the comment box, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via snail mail at Beth Batton, Mississippi Museum of Art, 380 South Lamar Street, Jackson, MS 39201.
Thank you to Kim Caron and the staff of Caron Gallery for allowing me to photograph in the gallery and for educating me about the artists they represent. Thanks also to Elayne Goodman for her kind permission to publish images of her artwork.
Welcome to Mississippi Byways, a research project of the Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson (the Museum). The Museum wants to learn more about visual artists, from the self taught to the academically trained, particularly those relatively unknown, but also those well known, in our state.
The Museum also wants to hear from you about artists who you think are interesting. Which artist does everyone in your town or neighborhood know about but no one in Jackson seems to have heard of? For example, that awesome mural at the hair salon, restaurant, club, or church? Tell us about it!
With your help, and using grassroots and traditional research, for the next year and a half, I will explore communities for the stories of artists, art collectors, and art supporters. You can read about what I find here. Rather than this being a place for me to share deep thoughts about art, I mean to find art and narratives that reflect the diversity of Mississippi so that the Museum becomes more and more a physical and virtual place where folks from all over the state feel included and excited about visiting.
I’m starting my tale in Tupelo. Barely 24 hours there one day in late January energized me about the art there: art being created now, art created decades ago, and art being exhibited and sold. Although visual art is not limited to the walls of museums and galleries, I saw wonderful things at The Caron Gallery and at the Oren Dunn City Museum. I look forward to visiting the Gumtree Museum of Art on my next trip.
At the Oren Dunn City Museum is an impressive painting by Mississippi artist Wade Herbert Armstrong, who lived in Tupelo. The Legend of Hummingbird hangs above display cases of arrowheads. The wall label explains that a Chickasaw man, named Hummingbird, and other Chickasaw warriors attacked a wagon train of white settlers. Most of the settlers were killed, but Hummingbird spared a young girl. Back in Hummingbird’s village, his family took her in and reared her. She and Hummingbird were married when she was old enough to wed.
Tupelo historian Boyd Yarbrough told me that a mural by Armstrong, now deceased, depicting the history of Tupelo is displayed at the Lee County Public Library. Armstrong was active as a portraitist in the 1960s, according to Patti Carr Black’s book, Art in Mississippi, 1720-1980 (University Press of Mississippi, 1998). On my next visit to Tupelo, I look forward to seeing it and to learning more about Armstrong.
What do you think is important to know about artists in Mississippi? Who are some Mississippi artists – living or deceased – whom you find interesting?
Write to me via the comment box, e-mail at email@example.com, or snail mail at Beth Batton, Mississippi Museum of Art, 380 South Lamar Street, Jackson, MS 39201.