This fall, in a special series of events titled, “A Celebration of Southern Photography,” The University of Southern Mississippi will host a lecture by renowned Southern studies expert Dr. William R. Ferris, as well as two exhibitions on campus and a special issue of The Southern Quarterly. The Vicksburg native will give a talk at 6 p.m. Oct. 12 in Gonzales Auditorium, Liberal Arts Building 108 on the Hattiesburg campus of Southern Miss. A reception and book signing will follow at 7 p.m. in the Gallery of Art and Design in the George Hurst Building. The Gallery exhibition, ‘Portraits of Southerners: Photographs from The Do Good Fund,’ will be open through Nov. 3. Prior to the Ferris lecture, Cook Library Art Gallery will host an opening reception and book signing for ‘Mississippi Landscapes: Places in the Land’ from 4-5:30 p.m. All events in this celebration are free and open to the public.
The work of several Mississippi artists will be featured in the ‘Mississippi Landscapes: Places in the Land’ exhibition in Cook Library Art Gallery. Visitors will enjoy photographs of landscapes from Ashleigh Coleman of Jackson, Thomas Pearson of Hattiesburg, Euphus Ruth of Greenville, David Wharton of Oxford, Brooke White of Oxford and Malcolm White of Jackson. Each artist demonstrates his or her personal vision of – and reverence for – special places across Mississippi’s remarkably broad and varied landscape. According to Dawn Smith, University Libraries’ Publicity and Outreach director, the exhibition will run through Dec. 12 and will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the College of Arts and Letters to showcase some of our Mississippi artists in the Cook Library Art Gallery,” Smith said. “Hundreds of students, faculty and staff visit Cook Library each day, and we are excited for our patrons to be able to view this exhibit. We are also happy to welcome visitors from the community and around the state for the exhibit opening and book signing.”
Images in the ‘Portraits of Southerner exhibition have been chosen from the Do Good Fund’s collection of southern photography. Since its founding in 2012, the Georgia-based charity has focused on building a museum-quality collection of photographs taken in the American South since World War II. According to their website, Do Good's mission is “to make its collection of more than 400 images broadly accessible through regional museums, nonprofit galleries and nontraditional venues, and to encourage complementary, community-based programming to accompany each exhibition.”
The exhibition, sponsored by the Department of Art and Design and College of Art and Letters is open during normal gallery hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday through Nov. 3.
“We are excited to participate in ‘A Celebration of Southern Photography’ by hosting Portraits of Southerners in the Gallery of Art and Design,” Traci Stover, interim director of the Gallery, said. “This exhibition with its images of Southerners from various backgrounds and time periods is sure to fascinate our students and patrons from outside the university. Also, it is an honor to welcome Dr. William R. Ferris as guest lecturer in conjunction with this event. His expertise in southern culture will complement the exhibition and enrich our students’ and the public’s experience viewing the photographs.”
William Ferris’s lecture, “The South in Color: A Visual Journey,” will open the ‘Portraits of Southerners’ exhibit and will surely interest Southern culture enthusiasts near and far. Ferris, a widely recognized leader in Southern studies, African American music and folklore, is the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the senior associate director of its Center for the Study of the American South.
He is also the former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1997-2001) and has written or edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films. He co-edited the massive Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, “The South in Color: A Visual Journal,” was published in 2016 by the University of North Carolina Press. Ferris’s films include “Mississippi Blues,” which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival. He has produced numerous sound recordings and hosted “Highway 61,” a weekly blues program on Mississippi Public Radio for nearly a decade.
Ferris was the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he taught for 18 years. He also taught at Yale University and Jackson State University. A graduate of Davidson College, he received a Ph.D. in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. He has won many prestigious honors, including the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and the W.C. Handy Blues Award. In 2017, Ferris received the Mississippi Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement
The Ferris lecture is co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters, the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, the Center for the Study of the Gulf South, The Southern Quarterly, the Department of Art and Design, University Forum, the Arts Institute of Mississippi and the Mississippi Humanities Council.
There will also be a community exhibition hosted by the Hattiesburg Arts Council smART space at Hattiesburg City Hall. The Do Good Portrait Project will feature portraits by adults and children from Clearview Recovery Center, Earl Travillion Attendance Center, HAC smART space after school program and Arc of Southeast Mississippi. The exhibition will run Oct. 9-Nov. 10, with an opening reception planned for Oct. 20 at 3 p.m.
For more information about “A Celebration of Southern Photography,” visit www.usm.edu/arts.