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 museum.olemiss.edu 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.

Mississippi Women

Untitled, n.d., by Mae Helen Flowers. On loan from the Collection of Carolyn Carothers.

Untitled, n.d., by Mae Helen Flowers. On loan from the Collection of Carolyn Carothers.


Mississippi Women highlights works by fifteen Mississippi women artists of the 20th century. For most, their gender, geographic origin, and timeline are where their similarities end. Their choice of mediums vary widely from painting on a pair of shoes, to the traditional oil on canvas, or encaustic pigmented wax on copper plate. A strong Southern Baptist faith may play a central theme in one artist’s work, while other artists have chosen nonrepresentational styles such as decorative post minimalism or abstract expressionism.

Meditations on the Landscape in Art and Literature




Meditations on the Origins of Agriculture in America
meditations title

Celebrating the acquisition of William Dunlap’s Meditations on the Origins of Agriculture in America at the University of Mississippi Museum

March 25–July 27, 2019

Opening Reception: Monday, March 25, 4:00–5:45 p.m.

William Dunlap, Curator. Featuring works by: John Alexander, Walter Anderson, Jason Bouldin, Marshall Bouldin, Andrew Blanchard, Charlie Buckley, Jane Rule Burdine, Linda Burgess, William Christenberry, Langdon Clay, Maude Schuyler Clay, Ed Croom, Warren Dennis, William Dunlap, William Eggleston, William Ferris, Huger Foote, Michael Ford, Gilbert Gaul, Rolland Golden, William Goodman, Theora Hamblett, William Hollingsworth, Marie Hull, O.W. Pappy Kitchens, Jack Kotz, Terry Lynn, John McCrady, Robert Malone, Sally Mann, Milly West, Tom Rankin, R. Kim Rushing, Jack Spencer, Glennray Tutor, Wyatt Waters, Eudora Welty, Brooke White, and Carlyle Wolfe.

Friends of the Museum logoMississippi Arts Commission logoNational Parks Service logo

The acquisition of William Dunlap’s artwork was supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, through the Avery B. Dille Jr. Fund for Art Acquisition, in memory of Mr. Avery B. Dille Sr., Mrs. Katherine T. Dille, and Avery B. Dille Jr. Friends of the Museum and the artist contributed to the acquisition. Friends of the Museum is sponsoring the exhibition, symposium, and related activities. Funding partially provided by the National Park Service.

The Art of Identification  |  David Allen Sibley

Blackpoll Warbler and Bay-breasted Warbler from The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2014

February 26–October 5, 2019

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 28, 2019, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Meet the Artist and Gallery Walkthrough: Tuesday, April 2, 2019, 7-9:00 p.m.
Understanding Birds through Drawing: Thursday, April 4, 2019, 5:30 p.m.

The Art of Identification, a collection of watercolors by celebrated bird illustrator, ornithologist, and author David Allen Sibley, is on view at the University of Mississippi Museum beginning February 26.

The exhibit will display 25 original paintings from the Sibley Guides to Birds and Trees, as well as a few earlier works from the illustrator.

“Mr. Sibley exhibits in museums very infrequently, so this is a particularly great opportunity for Oxford and [the University],” said Robert Saarnio, director of the University of Mississippi Museum. “There is an appeal of partnering with such a wide range of organizations and we saw immediately the possibility of other related elements in the Permanent Collection supporting this show, such as recently-gifted, but not yet displayed, Audubon prints, and our Boehm ceramic birds collection.”

The UM Museum will host an opening reception on Thursday, February 28 at 5:30pm to celebrate the exhibit, which is on view until September 7, 2019. Sibley will visit the museum in April for several appearances and events, including a gallery walkthrough on April 2, a step-by-step demonstration on April 4, as well as to meet with students and local birding groups in the area. A full schedule of events can be found under the events tab.

“For me drawing is a tool, a method of study. It helps me to really dig in and develop an understanding of the things I am drawing, and the simple act of sketching has led to all kinds of discoveries,” Sibley said.

“Ultimately, I think the reward of studying nature is the chance to feel like a part of something bigger: to understand the patterns and rhythms of the natural world, to know what part each bird or tree is playing, and to see our own lives in that context.”

Sibley has authored and illustrated a series of guides for bird watchers and enthusiasts, which includes five volumes birds and one on trees. The Sibley Guides began publication in 2000 and have become one of the most accomplished guides for ornithological field identification in North America.

“I hope that sharing my illustrations through my books and through this exhibit acts as an introduction to the birds and trees that share our neighborhoods, allowing everyone to appreciate their place in the wider natural world,” Sibley added.

Local and regional bird and conservation organizations, including the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, Miss., Delta Wind Birds, and the Mississippi Ornithological Society, are equally excited to share Sibley’s knowledge and illustrations with the Oxford community.

“One could say the depth of Audubon’s legacy is carried today by David Allen Sibley, whose detailed avian portraits are equally field guides and works of art,” said Mitch Robinson, Conservation Education Manager at SPAC.

“John James Audubon, the namesake of the National Audubon Society, was the first European to document, draw and bring to life the diverse abundance of avian life in North America, inspiring awe and wonder in naturalists and bird lovers alike for over two centuries,” he added.

Admission to the UM Museum, as well as to the opening reception, is free. The galleries are open every Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Be among the first to know about upcoming events, exhibits, and workshops by becoming a member and supporting the mission of Mississippi’s largest academic museum.

The UM Museum is located at the intersection of 5th Street and University Avenue. For more information, call 662-915-7073 or email museum@olemiss.edu

by Victoria Bobo

Visual Abundance: Realism in Watercolor

Cherries, Tulips, Silver, Crystal and Dutch Vase

Cherries, Tulips, Silver, Crystal and Dutch Vase

January 22–August 3, 2019

Opening Reception and Gallery Walkthrough with Artist: Thursday, January 31, 2019, 5:30–7:30 p.m.

The work of realist painter Laurin McCracken is influenced by the Dutch and Flemish still life painters of the 16th and 17th centuries. Before a serious commitment to the medium of watercolor in 2000, McCracken was a successful architect and a part-time photographer. He attended Auburn University and earned his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Architecture from Rice University. He followed that with a Masters in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University. His work as a practicing architect and as a photographer allowed him to travel extensively in Europe, the Middle East, and Japan. His photographs have been widely published in architectural journals, as book covers, and as book illustrations.

Although McCracken did not take up watercolor until later in life, his existing skills in drawing, photography, and observation provided a strong foundation for his mastery of the medium. He studied with Gwenn Bragg at the Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia, and with Alain Gavin at the Art Institute of Chicago. He also carefully studied the works of still life masters who inspired his work.

McCracken’s paintings have won many awards and have been exhibited in juried shows from coast to coast and internationally. Shows include those of the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, the Transparent Watercolor Society, the Philadelphia Watercolor Society, the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society, the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors, and the Southern Watercolor Society. His paintings have also been included in many competitive international shows, including the Beijing International Art Biennale 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017; the Shenzhen International Watercolor Biennial 2012, 2014; the Thailand World Watermedia Exhibition 2014; and the Masters of Watercolour 2015, St. Petersburg, Russia.

McCracken is the current president of the Watercolor USA Honor Society and the Country Leader for the USA for the Fabriano in Acquarello in Fabriano, Italy. He is a signature member of more than a dozen watercolor societies.

A native of Meridian, Mississippi, McCracken currently resides and paints in Fort Worth, Texas.

Read more about Visual Abundance: Realism in Watercolor here.

A Long Road Back

The Wedding Dance, 2014

The Wedding Dance, 2014


August 21–December 8, 2018

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 13, 2018, 6–8:00 p.m.
Evening with the Artist: Thursday, November 8, 2018, 6:00 p.m.

George Tobolowsky’s series of metal sculptures, A Long Road Back, range from abstract winding forms to representational subjects. The artist’s incorporation of bold colors and found metal scraps create delightfully unexpected outcomes that pay tribute to modernist sculpture. Tobolowsky’s works will be on display inside and around the Museum, as well as throughout Oxford and the UM campus.

The University of Mississippi Museum would like to thank Earl Dismuke for his assistance in securing site locations and installations of these outdoor works.

Map and key to sculpture locations are below or can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Follow our interactive tour on your mobile device at UMArtAroundTown.com.

Map to sculpture location in A Long Road Back

1 The University of Mississippi Museum, University Avenue & 5th Street

Bending the Blue Rules, 2013
Corporate Guardian #2, 2011

On lawn of Walton-Young house:

Drawing on Paper #2, 2011
Drawing in Red, 2012

2 The Graduate Hotel, 400 N. Lamar Blvd.

Intersecting Intersections, 2011

3 The Inn at Ole Miss 120 Alumni Dr.

Colorful Sustainable Flowers #1, 2016–2018

4 FNC, Inc., 1214 Office Park Dr.

Corporate Guardian #1, 2011

5 Baptist Memorial Hospital-North, 1100 Belk Blvd.

The Long Green Road to Success, 2016

6 Green Roof Lounge at the Courtyard by Marriott, 305 Jackson Ave. E.

The Big Daydreamer, 2014
Little Chief, 2010

7 South Lamar Court, 101 S. Lamar Ct.

Chaos Theory, 2015

8 Oxford Canteen, 766 N. Lamar Blvd.

Colors of the Universe, 2012–2018

9 Rowan Oak, 915 Old Taylor Road

Inside house:

Red/Black Road to the Blue City, 2016

Where the Roots Rise

Moth Mother, 2017

Moth Mother, 2017

July 24–December 1, 2018

Artist’s Lecture: Wednesday, August 22, 2018, 5:30 p.m.

with light refreshments

Opening Reception and Gallery Walkthrough with Artist: Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, 6–8:00 p.m.

Where the roots rise, in a forest full of ecru bone, the woman of the woods awakes to a world of myth and ruination.

Where the Roots rise, a series of tea-stained cyanotypes, serves as a reminder that the gap between nature and ourselves is smaller than we acknowledge. Decay runs rampant—seasons change—nature lies in await to stake its claim.

Jaime Aelavanthara’s work articulates humankind’s capacity to decay as a marker of our identity. Set in the swamps and woods of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, natural places where one encounters life and death, growth and decay, the series chronicles the intimate relationship of a feral woman and her surrounding nonhuman environment. The woman collects the bones, branches, and flora and treads with the animals, both dead and living. Recognizing the deaths of other creatures, this woman observes in death, she, too, will be repurposed and consumed by the earth.

The cyanotype process shifts focus from potentially colorful landscapes and figures to patterns, textures, and the relationships of forms within the images. Tea-staining the prints dulls the blue and adds warmth. Printing on Japanese Kitakata paper, which is prone to ripping, tearing, and wrinkling, reflects the deterioration of nature and gives the prints a feeling of fragility. Untamed ultimately reflects upon the forms, the impermanence, and the interconnectedness of natural life.