The Museum of the Mississippi Delta’s newest exhibit is a unique showing of work created over the past year by four artists living in Bolivar County.
“4 Artists” opened Thursday and will run throughout October.
The exhibit showcases “four different people’s experience of living together” during a year that included floods, tornadoes and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All the work was made within that year that we spent together,” said Jesse Brown, one of the four artists who is also assistant professor of art at Delta State University.
Along with Brown, the exhibit also features work by Michael Foster, Hannah Bevens and Will Jacks.
The museum’s executive director, Katie Mills, reached out to Jacks, a photographer whose 2019 book “Po’ Monkey’s: Portrait of a Juke Joint” features his images of the former Merigold juke joint, about a showing of his work.
“He was totally agreeable to doing something, and then he had the idea to incorporate his roommates, and they are doing kind of a collective exhibit,” she said.
Brown, Foster, Bevens and Jacks began living together in fall 2019 on Jacks’ family’s 80-acre farm in Bolivar County.
“We all kind of ended up living out on Will’s family’s property together for an extended amount of time,” said Brown, who attended graduate school in Maine with Jacks and Bevens.
According to the museum’s summary of the exhibit, “The intention was not to plant corn or cotton or soybeans; it was to explore creativity and grow ideas.
“What you see presented are the objects made by four people intent on creating during a time when much was in flux.”
The exhibit features large prints by Jacks, color photographs by Brown, large paintings and a sculpture by Bevens, and small tintypes by Foster.
Brown’s photographs were taken in Bolivar County and throughout the Delta. He also took some in his hometown of Jonesboro, Georgia, and some in Richmond, Virginia.
“I’ve been traveling back and forth from those three places quite a bit,” he said.
Brown said what ties the different artists’ work together is not only the time they spent together creating, but also the area.
“The time is definitely a key aspect, but I think a lot of it was made on the land that we lived on in Bolivar County,” Brown said. “I think if we didn’t have that experience then maybe the work would be a little bit different. ... Will’s work is very specific to the land that we’re on. Michael’s work is very specific to the Delta land. Hannah’s work is very specific to the farm, to the property as well as the Delta, and I think my work kind of floats around. It’s more built on just the relationships that can exist in multiple places.”
During their time living together and creating art, the experience “fostered a lot of conversations just around art and around the work that we like to make,” Brown said.
Brown, Foster and Jacks still remain on the property, but Bevens returned to Maine to finish graduate school.
The artists are glad for the opportunity to exhibit their work together, which is being shown for the first time at the Museum of the Mississippi Delta.
After the exhibit went up, Brown said, “it was interesting to see all the work that went into it to get it to show, but also to see how four different artists are interpreting the different ideas, even though for a large part of the time, we were all living together.”
“It’s completely different from what we just had,” said Mills, referring to the museum’s last exhibit “A Journey in Folk Art.” “I like that it’s four different mediums, not all of the same thing. It’s neat to see how four people living together created art and how different it is. It’s four completely different expressions.”
Rather than an opening reception, because of COVID-19 precautions, Mills will hold a Zoom conference with the artists, which will be posted online for the public to view.
“We’re going to discuss their art, and the public can listen to the artists tell about their work and what inspired them,” said Mills.
Mills said, even during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to keep shows up at the museum.
“Even though we are in unprecedented times, and I know people aren’t getting out as much as they normally do, I still want to have something available for people to come see at the museum,” she said.
The museum “seems like a very good place to come,” because touching the work in an exhibit is not allowed and there’s plenty of room for social distancing.
Having an exhibit at the museum “gives people, who want to get out, an outlet, and so I wanted to make sure we did continue to have things going up,” said Mills.
For more information about the exhibit or the Museum of the Mississippi Delta, call 453-0925 or visit www.museumofthemississippidelta.com.
• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or email@example.com.