With Art, You Can Move The Pyramids

Jerry N. Uelsmann

Jerry Uelsmann, American, b. 1934, Untitled, 1996, Gelatin-silver print, © Jerry N. Uelsmann

In 1982, National Geographic “moved the pyramids”. Using expensive digital technology (proto-Photoshop), layout editors scrunched two of the Pyramids at Giza together so that they would both fit on the magazine’s vertically formatted cover. The photojournalist who captured the original image noticed, complained, and controversy over the ethics of photo-manipulation ensued.

Tomorrow is the last day to view Shared Vision, and the whole of the “Subjective Inventions” section of the exhibition showcases artists who used photo-manipulation before Photoshop as well. Albeit, as Raymond Pettibon has said, “In art, impurity is not a mortal sin.”

Let’s Build Some Visual Literacy: Conversation with Coriana Close

In a conversation with blogger Erin Williams, the 29 year-old Ohio native let us in on her influences, thoughts on if film photography will forever be a thing of the past, and why it takes more than a cell phone camera to call yourself a true photographer.

shared vision tour.Coriana Close

Coriana Close

When it comes to explaining why artists do what they do, sometimes the best points of view can only be understood by a fellow artist. Coriana Close, photographer and assistant professor at University of Memphis will attempt just that on Thursday, when she leads a guided tour of Shared Vision that explores the changes of the history of photography as seen in photos from the exhibit. An Oberlin College and University of Arizona Alum, she most recently showcased a collection of her photo and video work at Wrong Again Gallery, in an exhibition titled Solar that focused on time spent in Vieques and Puerto Rico. Continue reading

The Media Cabinet of Carroll Cloar

Over yonder at Summer of Cloar.com, Dr. Stanton Thomas has put together a list of essential reading for those of you who are HARD-CLOAR. There you’ll find Southern Gothic short stories coupled with paintings by Carroll Cloar that seem to tell the same story. In the spirit of interpretation – never exhaustive, here’s one more for the books.

Where the Woodbine Twineth (aka You Never Believe Me) by Davis Grubb.

It’s some pretty creepy/fantastic commentary about the fear that some people have of other cultures, despite their close proximity in daily life. In 1965, it was adapted into an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour:


Some of you may already be familiar with Davis Grubb. He wrote The Night of the Hunter. A national bestseller in 1955 and made into a movie that same year with one-time director Charles Laughton. It’s a hard-to-categorize thriller that went on to become one of Roger Ebert’s favorite films of all-time, and is responsible for all those knuckle tattoos.

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Scene from The Night of the Hunter

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Ancestry and Identity: Prints by Maritza Davila

Brooks blogger Erin Williams talks to the artist.

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Maritza Davila, Gallo Mañanero, 2008

Though we live our lives as individuals, the choices we make and the paths we choose are all shaped by the influences of those we let in our world. Our parents, future children and spouses, long lost friends, even politicians can shed light on the ways and means we decide to follow. For artist Maritza Davila, her life has been built like a sturdy home: Her parents laid the foundation, who raised her and her four sisters in her native Puerto Rico; was rounded out by other strong females like her daughter and aunt, and cemented through the examples and ideals of other friends, family, and students she met along the way.

Davila is a professor at the Memphis College of Art who specializes in printmaking, and has exhibited her work worldwide. Her latest exhibition, Ancestry and Identity: Prints by Maritza Davila, is framed as an altar that celebrates those she has looked up to the most. “Even though this work has been developed from a very personal point of view, they’re issues that we all deal with. They are family issues, love issues, honoring issues…they are not alien, and at least I hope they are not alien to the viewer,” she says. On the eve of its opening, we spoke with Davila about the values instilled in her by her father and mother, how she identifies as a Memphian, and what it means to have faith.
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It’s A Cloar, Cloar Summer

Artist Mandy Maxwell of Earle, Arkansas shares her thoughts on the Brooks Museum taking Summer of Cloar on the road in our June 29th event, Bike to Cloar. 

mandy1The Brooks has done some very impressive things this summer to promote both regional and southern art.

When it comes to art in the Delta, no one does it better than Carroll Cloar. Each of his masterpieces captures the romanticism and magic that only a true southern native could achieve. Those who’ve seen his work can’t help but place him among America’s best, yet he is still virtually unknown.
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Carroll Cloar Film Series

Memories, hauntings, history, and occasionally magical realism form reoccurring themes that cross place and time in the 3 films we’ve chosen to show alongside the upcoming Carroll Cloar centennial exhibition, The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South. Crîa Cuervos, The Exterminating Angel and Intruder in the Dust were selected to reference and expand upon the corresponding themes seen in Cloar’s life and paintings. Continue reading

You Can Go Home Again

Guest Blogger Erin Williams on Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey

Icon-Guide

In the quarter-century that I have spent in and around the city that I refer to as my second home – the place where I spent more summers, weekends, holidays, weekdays and all the days in between with my extended family, not once had the time ever been taken to go to the Brooks Museum.

That time ended yesterday.

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Angels and/or Tomboys or Both or Neither: Girlhood in the 21st-Century

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It’s called a ‘knit bomb’.

A group known as the Memphis Knit Mafia rallied last month to weave a 21st-Century response to the Brooks’ Angels & Tomboys exhibition around the walkways, architectural elements, and pedestals punctuating the Museum’s outdoor plaza.

From MKM’s call to action, fellow Memphian knitters came forth; trafficking tote bag after tote bag chock-a-block vibrant swatches of knit work onto the grounds. The collaboration transformed, unseating any remnants of color from the Brooks’ chalk festival of the day before. It seems we had staged a weekend of innocuous park graffiti.
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A Studio Visit with Chief Curator Marina Pacini

This fall, I am organizing A Different Kind of Landscape: Maysey Craddock and Erin Harmon. The exhibition will run from August 24 through November 10. I’ll be posting photos of our meetings in Erin’s and Maysey’s studios between now and the show’s opening. They’ll also be contributing images of works in progress. Click on the images below and stay tuned.
Marina Pacini
Chief Curator


M studio March

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Spotlight On: Our Lady of Sorrows School, 5th and 6th Grade ABC Program Experience 

Some of my fondest memories of elementary and middle school include the art projects that went along with the most interesting units that my favorite teachers thought up – the same teachers that inspired me to go into education myself. As a first year educator, I was daunted with the task of creating not only engaging standards-based lessons, but also incorporating art into what my students were doing in the classroom.

Participating in the ABC (Art and the Basic Curriculum) Program through The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art exposed both my students and me to excellent lessons that highlighted how to successfully use art integration in the classroom. We were also privileged to take part in guided museum visits and activities that showcased the wonderful educational resource that is the Brooks.

Most of my students have lived in Memphis all of their lives but had not been to the Brooks before participating in this program. I have a combined fifth and sixth grade classroom of mostly boys who are between the ages of 10 to 12 – not a group that most would say would be interested in fine art. When, during our first museum visit, I saw my entire class sitting at attention (a difficult task for many a middle school student) and intelligently discussing the symbolism in a particular painting with our fabulous museum educator Ms. Brown, I knew we were taking part in something special.

Ms. Brown’s three visits to our classroom at Our Lady of Sorrows School in Frayser were equally rewarding for my students. They learned how to create a Sioux Winter Count – an activity that brought an ancient Native American tradition to life for them within the four walls of our classroom. Their study of plant and animal cells in science was reinforced by our final ABC lesson for the year, which consisted of creating a scientific illustration of a cell.

From having the opportunity to join in on an ABC teacher watercolor painting workshop earlier this year to seeing the growth in my students because of their participation in this program, I look forward to the interesting lessons and activities my students and I can expect for next school year!

This blog is written by Elizabeth Black, educator at Our Lady of Sorrows School.

Amy Beth Rice: Adventures in Art Education from the Eyes of an Intern

While trying to think of an effective environment for socially-concerned art, I used to have visions of left-leaning galleries, street art, and house shows by small artist collectives. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t think of art museums. The word “museum” conjured images of quiet, chilly rooms housing  masterpieces being respectfully observed by a few individuals with clasped hands and raised eyebrows. However, my experiences at the Brooks and with my internship in the Education department began to gnaw on my preconceived notions of one-dimensionality and the Aztec dance performance during the Day of the Dead event definitely shattered them! The Brooks is so dynamic! I am so often inspired by conversations I’ve had with the staff in Education and others I’ve met here. The passion for art and to engage and educate the community is evident and it’s exciting to learn about and see the ways in which we do so.

I had no idea how much tedious effort it takes to organize an exhibition. Kathy Dumlao allowed me to help organize the student-created altar exhibition for the Day of the Dead event. This primarily took place through emailing, designing promotional and informative material for teachers, more emailing…and then a lot more emailing. I enjoyed the process, but it was not until the kids’ altars were installed and people began to enjoy and connect with them could I understand the richness of what we had been building.

Working on Peaceful Warriors: Aim For Change; showed me how involved the community could become in the exhibition. The photos and text in the show were created by high school students from Trezevant, Hutchison, and Westwood high schools after we visited with them in their classroom. My favorite part was that Karleen Gardner and Jenny Hornby allowed me to develop a powerpoint lecture in which I could use photography examples from the civil rights era and other revolutionary moments to babble on about what I’m most interested in: art and social change. The community then selected the photos for the exhibition on a facebook page. The images touched on a wide range of issues from gang activity to the importance of nutrition to animal cruelty. By focusing on “peaceful warriors” and their strategy to fighting a specific issue, the pieces offered a pathway to solution within their simultaneous focus on a problem. This gave the show a constructive, positive energy that inspired nonviolent action, yet it nicely accompanied the warrior theme of Armed and Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal.

It was exciting to see so many people in the auditorium for the student panel discussion that followed exhibition and to listen to the thoughts of the students and other community voices on the issues impacting our world. Together we pondered the meaning of  the exhibition and how a community can work together to face issues and I realized the active role a museum can play in fostering impactful dialogue.

I’m so grateful for all my experiences at the Brooks, all the fantastic people I’ve met, and the example the ladies in Education have given me of thoughtful, constructive thinkers and doers.