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Passionate Observer: Eudora Welty among Artists of the Thirties
The R. W. Norton Art Gallery is pleased to announce the opening on March 21, 2004, Passionate Observer: Eudora Welty among Artists of the Thirties, a striking exhibition featuring over 100 works, including photographs, paintings, drawings, and prints by notable American artists of the 1930s.
At the center of the exhibit are Eudora Welty's dramatic photographs of Mississippi, Louisiana and New York during the Great Depression. Welty's images from this time period are placed alongside works by artists such as Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton; photographers Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn; and Southern artists Walter Anderson, William Hollingsworth, Marie Hull, and Karl Wolfe. Such placement allows the viewer to compare Welty's artistic motivation with visual interpretations of her contemporaries from this period. (right portrait of Eudora Welty, mid-1930's)
Renowned author Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1909 and was a life-long resident until her death in 2001. Her interest in photography was further nourished through her acquaintance with other Mississippi artists, such as Marie Hull, Karl Wolfe, William Hollingsworth, and Helen Jay Lotterhos. Both a compassionate observer of the world and a passionate image maker, Eudora Welty used the camera much like she used language to document the economic instability and prevailing personal hardship experiences of the Great Depression through her photography.
As the Great Depression deepened a need to look at and define the country's character, artists nationwide focused on the activities and patterns of everyday life in America. While some artists chose to critique it, some to glorify it, and others simply to show it, this collective focus was known as the American Scene Movement, which virtually produced a self-portrait of the nation during the trying times of the 1930s. Some of the artists were social realists, like Edward Hopper, whose works illuminated urban societal problems. At the same time, Regionalists, such as Thomas Hart Benton, were intent on creating authentic American art by depicting experiences of rural America.
While Welty and fellow artists in Jackson did participate in the American Scene Movement, they did not indulge in the incessant patriotism that the style evoked in many of the nationally known artists of this time period. Rather, Welty's photographs taken during the Great Depression are evidence of her optimism about the human spirit and pride in the South. It is through her words and pictures that one shares in Welty's celebration of her home and her people. With Welty's discerning artistic vision, she captures many aspects of life during this period, confirming why she was known as the 'ultimate passionate observer of her time." More than just a chronicle, Welty's photographs, like her celebrated story writing, reveal the courage and dignity of the American people during this pivotal era. (right: Child on Porch, mid-1930's)
In addition, the exhibition features the photographs of Margaret Bourke-White, the first woman photojournalist who worked during this period, as well as five photographers working for The Farm Security Administration (FSA) during the 1930s. The black-and-white photographs taken by artists Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn and Marion Post Wolcott feature farm life in Mississippi during the Great Depression are a landmark in the history of documentary photography. The FSA photographs, which portrayed the disheartened, impoverished state of the nation, side by side with those of Eudora Welty emphasize her more compassionate understanding of humanity and awareness of the resilient American spirit.
Passionate Observer: Eudora Welty among Artists of the Thirties was organized by the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, and is traveling under the auspices of International Arts & Artists of Washington, DC. A hardcover companion book to the exhibition is available.
The exhibit will continue at the Norton Art Gallery through June 13, 2004.
(above: Preacher and leaders of the Holiness Church, Jackson )
About International Arts & Artists
International Arts & Artists is a non-profit, comprehensive arts service organization. Founded in 1995, IA&A is using innovative approaches to respond to the needs of the international arts community.
IA&A promotes international and cross-cultural understanding by working with a multitude of museums and cultural institutions, showcasing a wide range of diverse artists, arts movements and cultural programs. IA&A has collaborated with institutions in more than 40 states in the United States and with institutions in France, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Brazil in an effort to make the arts more available to a broad segment of the population.
International Arts & Artists's Traveling Exhibition Service provides large and small institutions with a wide range of thematic and solo exhibitions. 
International Arts & Artists exhibition description
1. Text courtesy International Arts & Artists website at http://www.artsandartists.org.
2. Text courtesy International Arts & Artists website at http://www.artsandartists.org.
rev. 8/19/04, 4/14/05
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