The Paintings of John McCrady


The Square, 1968

MARCH 22 – JULY 23, 2022

Born on September 11, 1911, John McCrady was born in Canton, Mississippi, and with few exceptions, remained a Southern artist. He lived in Oxford, MS when his father got a job as a Philosophy professor at the University. At the age of 21, McCrady attended the New Orleans School of Art’s Arts and Crafts Club. He also studied at the New York Art Students League and at the University of Pennsylvania. After marrying Mary Basso in 1939, he opened the John McCrady School of Art. During his career, McCrady worked for the Federal Art Project, painting a mural on the Amory, MS post office, as well as other federal buildings. He also created a series of war posters under the Works Progress Administration, though those posters received such negative criticism that McCrady took a decade long break from consistent art production. When he began to paint again, his work focused more on New Orleans, Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, and Southern rural life, forgoing his previous attentions to the Southern Black community. His works are housed in the Georgia Museum of Art, the Saint Louis Art Museum, Louisiana State Museum, University of Mississippi Museum. Before his death in 1968, McCrady finished three murals for the Bank of Oxford.

Theora Hamblett: Holy Symbols

Butterfly With Exploded Wing, 1959, oil on canvas

Butterfly With Exploded Wing, 1959



Theora Hamblett’s work is often recognized for the colorful scenes of rural Mississippi or children playing games from her childhood memories series. Lesser known, however, are Hamblett’s symbolic paintings inspired, in part, by the dreams and visions she experienced during her last 25 years. Theora Hamblett: Holy Symbols showcases a range of her paintings, drawings, and mosaics that depict the symbols that were so important to her and her faith.

Immaginazioni Fantastiche: The Ancient World of Piranesi

Print of Piranesi, the interior of the Basilica di S. Pietro in Vaicano

NOVEMBER 16, 2021 – JULY 30, 2022

The Ancient World of Piranesi explores the 18th century etchings by Italian architect, archaeologist, and artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Using his unique genius and diverse skills he created fantastical Roman scenes that both inspired awe and assisted in his efforts to preserve and restore classical ruins.

Jacob Hashimoto

The Other Sun

The Other Sun by Jacob Hashimoto

The Other Sun

AUGUST 17, 2021 – SEPTEMBER 3, 2022

Whether it be small intricate drawings or massive hovering forms consisting of thousands of kite-like discs, Jacob Hashimoto playfully balances the dichotomies he observes in landscapes and constructed virtual worlds. Exhibit is on view at both the University Museum and Rowan Oak.

The Speaking Image

War bond 1918 poster by J.C. Leyendecker

War bond poster, 1918. J.C. Leyendecker


The Speaking Image highlights commercial art from the Museum’s permanent collection. Commercial artwork is typically commissioned and meant for mass printing and consumption, with the goal of illustrating or enhancing a message or story. High frequency and volume of production meant that these images captured the events and culture shifts as they occurred leaving a lasting commentary of their place in history.

The Tradition of African American Quilt-Making

Southern African American quilts are one of the purest forms of southern folk art. It is a craft handed down for generations, often done communally, that represents family, region, and the love of its maker/s. Born from necessity, where resources are limited, it is a way to reuse scraps of cloth. Although most quilters typically adhere to patterns, the competitive spirit of southern folk artists often sparked spontaneity, experimentation, and creative choices in color and print that manifested into individual artistic voices.

Hardcovers and Paperbacks

By Brian Dettmer
Americana 54 #1, by Brian Dettmer

Americana 54 (#1), 2013



Virtual Artist Lecture: Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 2:00 p.m. CST


Brian Dettmer’s exhibit Hardcovers and Paperbacks, both memorializes the written word and reincarnates it. With great reverence, he has transformed books into sculptural works providing them with a new voice that pays homage to their former lives. Exhibit is on view at both the University Museum and Rowan Oak.

William Faulkner's Rowan Oak logo

Exhibit Breathes New Life Into Old Books at UM Museum, Rowan Oak
Artist Brian Dettmer on view Mar. 10 – Dec. 5

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum and Rowan Oak present a new exhibition of artwork by New York-based artist and book sculptor Brian Dettmer. “Hardcovers and Paperbacks” will be on view Mar. 10 through Dec. 5, 2020 at both locations.

“Not only is this the first show ever of an internationally-acclaimed artist to be exhibited dually at both the Museum and at Rowan Oak, but Brian occupies a position in the art world of a unique technique and approach to sculpting of hard cover books, and the international acclaim that goes with being a pioneer and visionary,” said Robert Saarnio, director of the UM Museum.

Dettmer’s work is a response to the recent cultural shift in the way information is gathered and accessed. He values the book and uses it to explore issues of accessibility, permanence and truth. Dettmer uses preexisting books, usually retired reference books, to create sculptures and other forms of media, all without moving or relocating any pages in the book. He begins by sealing the edges of the book and then uses knives and tweezers to carefully carve around the images or words he finds interesting and wants to display. Dettmer describes his work as “both archival and anti-archival,” and that he resurrects the contents of books that would otherwise be thrown away.

“Information is the raw material of today. We have an overabundance of text and imagery constantly at our fingertips. In digital media, it is often as fleeting as it is abundant,” Dettmer said. “Reference books have become almost extinct in less than one generation and we are at a pivotal time in the way we record and distribute facts.”

His work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum; The Art Institute of Chicago; The High Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Georgia, and the Yale University Art Gallery.

The University of Mississippi Museum is located at the corner of University Avenue and 5th Street. The galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is always free. Rowan Oak is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the house is $5 per person. The Rowan Oak grounds and Bailey Woods Trail are free and open to the public daily from dawn until dusk.

For more information about upcoming exhibits, events and the permanent collection, visit or 662-915-7073.

Southern Quilts


January 22–December 5, 2020




Sadie May Blackburn

Amanda Gordon

VT Price

Lutie Malone Vick

Pecolia Warner

Minnie Watson

Southern quilts are one of the purest forms of southern folk art. It is a craft handed down from generations, often done communally, that represents family, region, and the love and embodiment of its maker/s. Born from necessity, where resources are limited, it is a way to use scrap cloth. Although most quilters typically adhere to patterns, the competitive spirit of southern folk artists often sparked experimentation, spontaneity, and creative choices in color and print that manifested into individual artistic voices.

Most of these quilts were collected and gifted to the University Museum by Dr. William “Bill” Ferris, founder of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. A native Mississippian and folklorist Dr. William Ferris spent much of his time documenting Delta folk artists who would tell their stories while demonstrating their craft. His inevitable collection of their work would later also become the foundation of the Southern Folk Art Collection at the University of Mississippi Museum.

SQ title
SQ title

Two Lives in Photography

By Maude Schuyler Clay & Langdon Clay

Photographers, Langdon Clay (left) and Maude Clay

Photo by Sarah Benham Spongberg


September 17, 2019–February 15, 2020

Gallery Walk-through: Thursday, January 30, 2020, 6–8:00 p.m.


Two Lives in Photography features married photographers Maude Schuyler Clay and Langdon Clay in their first-ever joint exhibition.

Married for 40 years this month, the Clays have both made careers as published photographers and are included in collections around the globe. Despite both having careers spanning more than 50 years, the couple has never exhibited their work side-by-side in a museum or gallery before now.

“The University Museum is genuinely honored and very excited to be the venue for the first dual exhibition of distinguished photographers Maude Schuyler Clay and Langdon Clay,” museum director Robert Saarnio said. “Given their international reputations and acclaimed exhibition and publishing histories, this is a rare and privileged opportunity for the Museum and its audiences in its 80th year.”

Langdon credits his interest in still photography to producing 8mm silent films in high school. He purchased a secondhand Pentax camera in 1968 and became instantly hooked; he shot his first roll of film of Robert Kennedy in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade that same year. He fell in love with the process of developing in the darkroom, specifically creating a print that was tangible.

“The smell of acetic acid, the dim orange light, and the magic of the photo paper’s transformation was mesmerizing,” he said. 

Langdon printed most of the photographs on display at the UM Museum.

By 1971, Clay moved back to New York permanently and spent the next 16 years photographing much of the city.

“I experienced a conversion of sorts in making a switch from the ‘decisive moment’ of black and white to the marvel of color, a world I was waking up to every day. At the time it seemed like an obvious and natural transition. What was less obvious was how to reflect my world of New York City in color. I discovered that night was its own color and I fell for it,” Clay said, in reference to his work.

His first major series Cars (Steidl, 2016) is a collection of color photographs of cars taken at night throughout New York City from December 1974 to 1976.

While living in New York, Langdon met and married Maude Schuyler, who is also a photographer and cousin of William Eggleston, the famed photographer best known for validating color photography as a fine art medium. 

“Fifty years ago, I knew none of this, but felt intuitively the photography world was some place I could comfortably inhabit. Then I married Maudie and that world effectively doubled,” Langdon said.

In 1987, Langdon, Maude, and their first child, Anna, moved to Sumner, Mississippi, Maude’s hometown.

Maude Schuyler Clay was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. She received her first camera, a Brownie Starflash, at nine years old. She credits photography as saving her from “perpetrating more destructive teenage uselessness,” and as an activity that was fulfilling enough to preserve long-term.

After attending the University of Mississippi, the Instituto Allende in San Miguel, Mexico, and the Memphis Academy of Arts, she served as a studio assistant to Eggleston and credits him as her primary artistic role model. She remembers accompanying him on rides in the late afternoon light; she was able to observe through his lens what he found worthy of photographing.

She moved to New York City in the mid-1970s to work for LIGHT Gallery. During this time, Maude began to concentrate on color photos of people in low, natural light which to differentiate her work from Eggleston’s, she says. When she returned to the Mississippi Delta with Langdon, the landscape became her new subject of choice. Maude felt that its stark beauty seemed to call for black and white, rather than color.

“My main objective through photography,” she said, “has been to simply leave a record of how the world looks. You could say my world, specifically, but the larger truth is this: however we artists accomplish our interpretations, perhaps others — now, or at a later time — can benefit from a lifetime devoted to the act of simple observation.”

Maude has published several photography books with images of the Mississippi, including Delta Land (1999), Delta Dogs (2014), and Mississippi History (2015). Most recently, Mississippi, a collaboration with poet Ann Fisher-Wirth, was released in 2018.

Her works are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and the High Museum in Atlanta, among others. She has received numerous awards, including the Mississippi Arts and Letters award.

Maude and Langdon agree, the joint exhibition can be summed up in the words of John Keats, often recited in their home: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, —that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

The Clays continue to live and work from their family home in Sumner and have three adult children — Anna, Schuyler, and Sophie. 

Dreams and Visions

Angel's request by Theora Hamblett

Angel’s Request #2, 1956.

“Parents didn’t like for their children to play ball games Saturday afternoon. That was too against Belief. And Mama fussin, I went to the fireplace to get a hot iron. I picked up the hot iron and went back to the ironing board and began ironing and I heard a noise. And I looked up right in front of me and there was an angel. It was papa. As I saw him in lights, only he was white with large white angel wings and grey robe, with both hands extended out towards me, and the right one nearer me and he says “Baby”. I had said I was going too [to the ball game]. And he says, “Baby, for my sake, don’t go.” So I didn’t. Of course I didn’t go. But, that vision was a big guiding in my life. After that, when I needed to make a decision, I would get off to myself and wonder, would papa be pleased with what I was doing? And really I think what I am today is from that.”




Theora Alton Hamblett was born and raised in Paris, Mississippi, and lived the latter part of her 80-year life in Oxford. A schoolteacher by training, she had a lifelong interest in art, but didn’t begin painting until age 55. Hamblett passed away in 1977 after gaining fame throughout the nation as a self- taught artist who’s brightly colored paintings of children’s games and childhood memories had universal appeal.

A Conversation with; Theora Hamblett link to video with Hamblett's photoLesser known are Hamblett’s religious paintings inspired by the dreams and visions she experienced during her last 25 years. This third category of her work was considered by the artist to be her most important work, therefore she preferred to keep most of the paintings rather than exhibiting them for profit. When Hamblett bequeathed her collection to the University of Mississippi, she gave explicit instructions that her religious paintings be given priority over all her other works in terms of exhibition, conservation, and scholarly study.

“she saw a vision of her brother with ‘shining eyes of glory’”

On the morning of July 3, 1971, Theora Hamblett received a phone call notifying her that her older brother Hubert had suffered a heart attack, but was stable. Despite reassurances, Theora spent the day anxiously pacing between three rooms of her house. As the day turned to evening, her pacing continued until, while turning into a room, she saw a vision of her brother with “shining eyes of glory”. Believing that this vision meant her brother had passed Theora spent the rest of the evening crying on her bed. Then between 10-11:00 pm, she received another phone call confirming her greatest fear that Hubert had indeed died.

Several weeks later, following the funeral, she painted this vision of Hubert she saw the day he died.

The tea towel is an addition made by Theora Hamblett to ceremoniously uncover and cover him daily.

Hubert, #137, 1971, Theora Hamblett Dreams and Visions Series
Oil on canvas, H: 38 ½”; W. 30 ⅛”
Bequest of Theora Hamblett, 1977.012.0174, 1956.

Hamblett’s overarching concern for this work can be attributed to the spirituality of her youth, a permutation that Protestantism scholars have dubbed Popular Southern Evangelicalism. The belief that her psychic episodes were religious experiences was therefore partially conditioned by the prevalence of such views within her early churches, but also latter collectors of this category. Five years after she began painting, the Museum of Modern Art acquired one of her dream paintings and changed the title of her work from The Golden Gate to The Vision. Listen to Theora discuss the Museum of Modern Art acquisition here.

Theora Hamblett’s work remains influential in contemporary southern art. The University of Mississippi Museum is proud to be the stewards of the majority of her art.