“You’re going to love this one,” my niece announced. She’s five years old and some change, and she was showing me her art collection–pieces she’d created this year. Decorated paper plates, drawing book pages, and even larger painted pieces like these two.
The occasion for my visit was kind of a sad one. I drove six hours to drop off one of my dogs with my parents because my apartment lease only allows two pets and, as of yesterday, I had three. Sigh. So the opportunity to see my niece’s artworks provided me with temporary respite. A needed distraction. And in fairness, I loved them all.
Every time I think I have the state of #Mississippi mostly figured out, I learn something new. Every time. As I’ve learned since moving here 2 1/2 years ago, Mississippi was home to more than a dozen Native American tribes–from the Pascagoula tribe on the Gulf Coast to the Tunica tribe in the Delta. The largest tribe was (and still is) the Choctaw. The second largest? The Chickasaw.
Before their forced removal in the 1830s, the Chickasaw occupied northeastern Mississippi, with villages located between the headwaters of the Yazoo and Tombigbee rivers. The Chickasaw were skilled war makers, hunters, and gatherers. They had highly developed ruling systems. The present-day Chickasaw Nation occupies 13 counties in south central Oklahoma, with its capital in Tishomingo, and its people, culture, and traditions thrive. Chickasaw artists also thrive, as I found out yesterday at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The MMA has an exhibition titled Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art, and I loved what I learned.
Painter B.L. Hensley interprets Chickasaw leaders and peoples through a cool lens.
Designer Maya Stewart incorporates buckskin as part of her sculptural work.
Joanna Underwood Blackburn uses ochre-colored clay and steel to resurrect prayers with this installation, which throws some crazy cool shadows.
Erin Shaw conjures imagery from underneath the ancient sea.
Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art is open through June 2. You can plan your visit here.
As the weather has cooled here in central Mississippi, I’ve been catching up on documentary films that I can download or stream as Jackson’s movie theaters mostly offer commercial/mainstream fare. Sniff sniff, sigh. Anyhow, one documentary I like very much is The Price of Everything by Nathaniel Kahn. This 2018 film parses where contemporary art and commerce collide. Or are manufactured–figuratively and literally. It’s sometimes uneasy stuff if you appreciate art, make art for a living, or know artists.
The uneasy part–there are many, actually. Some works fetch ridiculous amounts of money. (Gerhard Richter’s ABSTRAKTES BILD recently commanded a $32,000,000 purchase price at Sotheby’s.) Dealers who sell artists’ original works may collect up to 50% in commission. There are “financial interests of certain parties” that may influence the outcome of an auction sale, which seems a polite way of saying that some sales are gamed. Some art buyers purchase works not to appreciate them but on a speculative basis–to store and sell for a profit at a later point.
Kahn interviews artists, dealers, collectors, historians. There are interview moments I prefer to skip. There are others that cause pause. Stefan Edlis remarks of some art collectors:
There are a lot of people that know the price of everything and the value of nothing.