the contemporary artistry of chickasaw nation peoples

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.

Mississippi Museum of Art Visual Voices Contemporary Chickasaw Art B.L. Hensley Jackson Mississippi

Designer Maya Stewart incorporates buckskin as part of her sculptural work.

Mississippi Museum of Art Visual Voices Contemporary Chickasaw Art Maya Stewart Jackson Mississippi

Joanna Underwood Blackburn uses ochre-colored clay and steel to resurrect prayers with this installation, which throws some crazy cool shadows.

Mississippi Museum of Art Visual Voices Contemporary Chickasaw Art Joanna Underwood Blackburn Jackson Mississippi

Erin Shaw conjures imagery from underneath the ancient sea.

Mississippi Museum of Art Visual Voices Contemporary Chickasaw Art Erin Shaw Jackson Mississippi

Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art is open through June 2. You can plan your visit here.

i enjoyed the moment

Another special place in #Jackson, and not too far from Farish Street, is the Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA). This museum is located downtown but if you didn’t know where it was located (on Lamar between Pascagoula and Court Streets), you’d totally miss it. It’s hidden behind the Russell Davis Planetarium and Thalia Mara Hall.

To visit the MMA is a cool museum experience if you like museums (I do). It is situated on a lush lot with a broad plaza, beautiful trees and ferns. Parking is free. Admission, also free.

I visited MMA last November as I needed to take a break from different house projects. Sometimes there is only so much you can accomplish in a day, and sometimes you need a break. I did. I wandered through the museum and my favorite installation, if that is what you would call it, was a board where school children posted their comments. This one struck me with its simple message and heart. I enjoyed the moment. HEART.

Moment

promise

Promise me you’ll visit #Mississippi if you never have or just driven through. Promise me this, won’t you?

The reasons are many, but here are three:

  • Do you like beaches? Our Gulf Coast shoreline is sleepy wonderful.
  • Books? Get yourself–right quick as some say here–to Square Books in Oxford. (And get a meal at City Grocery. You won’t be disappointed.)
  • Museums? Jackson, the state capitol, is calling your name. I recently checked out the “Picturing Mississippi” exhibit at the Mississippi Museum of Art and was utterly awed by the quality of the exhibit (it is first rate) and the price (hello, FREE). I am hard pressed to identify a favorite piece of artwork in this exhibit, but this one nears the top. (It might be my top choice. I just need to commit to it.) It is of Miss Welty as she was known locally in Jackson. Exquisite.

Eudora