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Mississippi Byways

The Mississippi Byways Research Project is an 18-month (January 2015 – June 2016) initiative to explore the deeply rooted arts traditions that distinguish Mississippi’s visual arts. Using grassroots fieldwork, the Mississippi Museum of Art (the Museum) will engage artists and communities across the rural state and will ultimately incorporate their stories into the next iteration of The Mississippi Story, the Museum’s permanent collection exhibition, in 2017.

An explicit goal is to identify stories and communities that thus far are underrepresented in The Mississippi Story, and Byways will accomplish this goal by identifying, gathering, and ultimately telling these untold cultural narratives. Indeed, Byways presents an important opportunity for the Museum to contribute to the extant scholarship on the visual arts in Mississippi, as it will help unearth some of the creative exploits of native Mississippians whose work has never made its way into the recognized “canon” of the state’s visual arts.

National Endowment for the Arts Fellow Beth Batton will travel throughout the state visiting with both artists and collectors, documenting their stories, and publishing these accounts in this blog will allow people anywhere to follow the Fellow’s weekly adventures and to take a virtual, creative journey across Mississippi. Batton worked at the Museum from 2005 to 2014, most recently as Curator of the Collection.

The public is invited to suggest artists and communities to incorporate into the research plan. To contact Beth Batton, please email her at bbatton@msmuseumart.org or write to Mississippi Museum of Art, Mississippi Byways Research Project, 380 South Lamar Street, Jackson, MS 39201.

Connecting with communities and unearthing untold creative exploits is an explicit goal of this project, helping MMA work towards its mission to engage all Mississippians in the visual arts and ultimately making The Mississippi Story more representative of the diverse arts and people of Mississippi.

The Byways Blog at www.msbyways.com allows people anywhere to follow the Fellow’s weekly adventures and to take a virtual, creative journey across Mississippi. Through the blog, the public can also suggest artists and communities that should be explored.