An exhibition celebrating Mississippi blues music begins Friday, June 17 with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Bennett Martin Public Library, 136 S. 14th St. "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 juke joints by photographer Ken Murphy. The reception will include a performance by local blues artist CA Waller.
The exhibition can be viewed during normal library hours through Wednesday, August 10. Three other special events are planned:
The exhibition includes educational materials, a music playlist and a closed-captioned film about the project. It is also accompanied by the 2008 documentary film "M for Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues." The exhibition was organized by ExhibitsUSA, a national partner of Mid-America Arts Alliance. It was curated by Chuck Haddix, music historian, author, radio personality and director of the Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
McConnell-Dickerson, who is visually impaired, said visitors are encouraged to touch the resin-cast masks. "A life cast is like a 3-D photograph to someone who is blind," she said. "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." The exhibition includes braille labels.
Ken Murphy's photographs are selected from the 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 photos.
Blues music was born in the Mississippi Delta in the 1920s and 1930s with artists like Charlie Patton, Son House and Robert Johnson. The next generation of Mississippi artists led by Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf took the Delta blues north to Chicago. Their work has inspired generations of rock and roll musicians, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Black Keys. Since the 1990s, Delta blues has undergone a revival, with the rediscovery of overlooked artists and the rise of contemporary blues acts like the North Mississippi Allstars and the Homemade Jamz Blues Band.
ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 communities every year. More information is available at eusa.org. The Mid-America Arts Alliance based in Kansas City, Missouri, is the oldest nonprofit regional arts organization in the U.S. More information is available at maaa.org.
More information on Lincoln City Libraries is available at lincolnlibraries.org.