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Schedule of Events

2018 Symposium | “Bringing Forward the Past: Art, Identity, and the American South”


5:30-8 PM | Keynote address: “Vision + Justice: Art and Activism in a Contested Democracy” by Dr. Sarah Lewis
This address, delivered by noted author and Harvard art historian Dr. Sarah Lewis, marks the beginning of “Bringing Forward the Past: Art, Identity, and the American South” and lays out the overarching themes of the symposium. What is the relationship between art, justice, and the contestation for citizenship in a radicalized America, from the Civil War to the Black Lives Matter movement, from World War I to the Muslim Ban? This keynote will address this urgent question through a framework inspired by Frederick Douglass’ ideas about the role of images for American progress. Today, protests, state violence, natural disasters, grief and loss are all played out in photos and videos in real time unlike anything we thought possible just a few decades ago. This address makes a case for why images are playing an increasingly crucial role in justice in contemporary life. Reception to follow.


9-10:15 AM | Place in Contemporary Practice
This panel explores the ways that personal histories have shaped the artistic practices of two Mississippi-born artists, McArthur Binion and Noah Saterstrom. Using the Mississippi landscape and its literary precedents as the backdrop of the conversation, this panel looks at how drawing on memories of a place expands upon contemporary readings of identity, memory, history, and even myth. Moderated by Museum Curator Elizabeth Abston | Panelists include McArthur Binion and Noah Saterstrom.

10:15-10:30 AM | Break

10:30-11:45 AM | Trauma and Memory
From the institution of slavery to the racial terror of the Jim Crow era to the present, pain has marked the history of Mississippi, the larger South, and the nation at large. This panel considers the role that visual art, particularly monuments and memorials, plays in constructions of history, heritage, and collective memory. Moderated by art historian Dr. La Tanya Autry | Panelists include artist Nona Faustine and scholars Dr. Dell Upton, professor in the Department of Art History at UCLA, and Dr. Robert Luckett, associate professor in the Department of History at Jackson State University.

Noon-1 PM | Lunch + Conversation
Boxed lunches available for purchase in The Museum Café. MENU

1-2 PM | Art + Conversation in the Galleries
Guided by Museum staff and artists, symposium guests spend time together looking closely at works of art and reflecting on the content of the morning symposium panels.

2-2:15 PM | Break

2:15- 3:30 PM | Race, Space, and Abstraction in the American South
This panel investigates race, space, and abstraction as it relates to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. The panelists are artists whose work brings these issues to the surface: imagined space, space regulated and sectioned by laws (the black body in space), and forms of visionary representation which respond to the world and imagine it differently … the convergence of poetics and politics. Their work also leads into a broader question: What does it mean to make art at this heated moment and in the wake of segregation’s legacy? Moderated by LeRonn P. Brooks | Panelists include artists Torkwase Dyson, Felandus Thames, and Sheila Pree Bright.

3:30-4:30 PM | Concluding Conversation + Reception
Moderated by Mississippi Museum of Art Director Betsy Bradley

7 PM | Rhiannon Giddens in Concert
2017 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant-winner Rhiannon Giddens is a singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter enriching our understanding of American music by reclaiming African American contributions to folk and country genres and revealing affinities between a range of musical traditions, from gospel and Celtic to jazz and R&B. In her recordings and live performances, Giddens has mined the history of the African American string band tradition, introducing new audiences to the black banjoists and fiddlers whose influences have been left out of popular narratives of the lineage of folk and country music. She has performed at national and international festivals and venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the White House, the Spoleto Festival, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, the Aarhus Festival in Denmark, and the National Folk Festival, among others.

The bicentennial symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required.