Delta born and raised photographer Maude Schuyler Clay has been documenting her homeland for decades.
She is no stranger to those attracted to the Mississippi Delta and its visual richness that exudes from the topsoil that can go as deep as 80 feet. Maude has captured her piece of the earth from many different angles, including depicting swamplands that endured the complete transformation of the landscape in order to prepare the land for farming cotton. And, her haunting, lovable and sometimes unreachable “Delta dogs.”
Ann Fisher-Wirth is known for exquisite poetry that focuses on environmental themes and issues. From her office at the University of Mississippi and her travels, she has devoted a portion of her life to writing verse and getting us to imagine the world she lives in.
Together these two artists united in a project that resulted in the publication of a book titled simply, “Mississippi.”
These photographs, whether landscapes, structures or interior still-life images, explore both the degradation and the beauty of this place. The poems are explorations of voice in all its Mississippi plenitude and variety, honoring white, Native American and African American alike, delving deep into the rich orality of Mississippi Culture.
Indeed, Mississippi has suffered severe environmental degradation that cannot be separated from its history of poverty and racial oppression.
Maude Schuyler Clay’s photographs have appeared in numerous magazines and are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, Texas), the High Museum and the National Museum for Women in the Arts and others. She has received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award twice and the Governor’s Arts Award. She has numerous publications and is still working on other works and exhibitions, some with her photographer husband, Langdon Clay.
Ann-Fisher Wirth is co-editor with Laura-Gray Street of the Ecopoetry Anthology (2013) and several books of poems. She has received the Rita Dove Poetry Award, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award and two Mississippi Arts Commission poetry fellowships.
“Mississippi,” the exhibition, opens to the public with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday.
The artists will be in attendance. Turnrow Books will be on hand to sell copies of “Mississippi,” which will be personally signed by the artists.
For more information, call the museum at 453-0925. The exhibition runs through Nov. 22.
• Cheryl Thornhill is the executive director of the Museum of the Mississippi Delta. Contact her at email@example.com.