In Focus with Girls Inc.

Photographs and video from the Brooks Museum’s summer In Focus program are currently on view in the Education Gallery through Oct 23, 2011. Memphis artist Thomasin Durgin worked with 30 adolescents from Girls Incorporated, a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The focus of the program was portraiture through digital photography and included an introduction to stop-motion video.

Adolescents typically struggle with issues of identity and control over their own lives. Through portraiture girls are able to express who they are, and to show themselves as they want to be seen by the world. Many participants began the program with an eye for glamorous shots, yet photo assignments such as composing faceless portraits or choosing to depict specific emotions helped them begin viewing the camera as an artistic tool. Photographs were projected and reviewed at the end of most sessions, which encouraged dialogue and reflection. Composition, framing, lighting, and technical aspects of photography were introduced during these discussions s well.

An exceptional group of talented girls, the participants created work that is moving, creative, thoughtful, and fun.

Who Shot Rock & Roll! It’s Almost Here! 

There’s been a strong buzz inside and outside of the Brooks with the museum’s newest exhibition, Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present, and now we finally get to see it!

Working at the museum has its obvious benefits. I am allowed to express myself through my clothing, which is oftentimes vintage and weird. I get to talk about art all day, be creative and imaginative, and walk the halls of our beautiful galleries at my leisure.

However, whenever a new exhibition is being set up, no one can venture into the gallery space. I found this out the hard way when I wandered into a closed exhibition, only to be caught by our Exhibitions Director! She was very nice while I was very apologetic (and embarrassed)! Apparently, only exhibitions staff is allowed inside, leaving the rest of the museum staff just as anxious to see the new art as our visitors.

As the Brooks’ Visitor Services Manager, I am excited to welcome each guest with the same giddiness as they have when they come to see this exhibition. I love all of the exhibitions we’ve had here since I’ve started, but Who Shot Rock & Roll takes the cake for me. As a born and raised Memphian, I love and truly appreciate music — especially the history. I’ve gone on late night bicycle rides to Graceland with friends, driven to Mississippi at 2 a.m. to experience Graceland Too (my boyfriend, an honorary member, has been there four times), and gleefully taken my Nashville friends to eat Dyer’s burgers. Now when our friends visit us, I can bring them to the Brooks to learn and feel the Memphis music experience.

To learn more about the Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present exhibition, click here.

To schedule a group tour or to learn about docent-led tours, email Brenda Burgess at brenda.burgess@brooksmuseum.org.

To find out about all of the events scheduled during this exhibition, email andria.lisle@brooksmuseum.org or click here.

Symbols of History

News Channel 3’s Alex Coleman came by this morning to talk to our Chief Curator Marina Pacini about an upcoming auction of “Printed & Manuscript African Americana” by the the Swann Auction Galleries.  Mike Lollar of The Commercial Appeal wrote an article about it in today’s paper. Among the items up for auction (click here for Swann’s full catalogue) are a number of items from the Civil Rights movement, including one of very few surviving copies of the original poster carried by Memphis sanitation workers during the 1968 strike, bearing the message I AM A MAN.

One of the things that makes these posters so significant, Marina explains, is that this simple sentence, just a few words, so powerfully expresses the fundamental statement of Civil Rights.  It is also remarkable because the placards themselves were made from cardboard, that this one was kept and is in such good condidtion.

Also up for auction are photographs by Ernest Withers.  The Brooks considers ourselves very lucky to have a collection of Withers’ work, and we have a permanent tribute to the ground-breaking photographer in our rotunda. There is always one of his photographs on display on this special wall so visitors are able to see these historical images anytime they come in.  It is access to visual resources such as these, Marina says, that allows people to learn about and experience history in a new way.

The WREG story will appear sometime after 5pm today.

Read more about the museum’s collection of works on paper here.