The University Museum will begin to display artist and curator William Dunlap’s exhibition “Meditations on the Origins of Agriculture in America” with a reception on Monday at 4 p.m., featuring works that celebrate springtime as part of a two-day symposium that will include landscapes and written proses from 39 writers and artists, including Dunlap.
The debut will be held at the museum and other venues, including Nutt Auditorium and the Ford Center. For the symposium, Lisa Howorth, owner and co-founder of Square Books, Off-Square Books and Square Books, Jr. will serve as a moderator on Monday at noon.
Other moderators and presenters include art historian J. Richard Gruber, who will be giving the keynote address, Betsy Bradley of the Mississippi Museum of Art, author Ralph Eubanks, Julian Rankin of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs and poet Natasha Trethewey from Northwestern University.
Eubanks said that Dunlap’s work beautifully represents the South.
“In the American South, the idea of place is enshrined in both literature and art,” Eubanks said. “William Dunlap’s work speaks to that special alchemy of the visual and the verbal that exists in the South.”
Eubanks also commented on the significance of William Dunlap’s featured piece in regards to its connection to the other artists.
“His painting ‘Meditations of the Origins of Agriculture in America’ makes an important statement about the historical narrative of the South,” Eubanks said. “It reveals how complex and layered that narrative is, particularly when many would like to reduce it to a single historical thread.”
Kate Wallace, the University Museum’s membership, events, and communications coordinator, said this will be the first time the piece will be displayed since its acquisition. The museum’s preparator Kyle Hoehn said those involved are working hard and are busily preparing for the event; he expects an excellent turnout.
A word from Natasha Trethewey will follow at 6 p.m. in Nutt Auditorium. The public are welcome to attend at no cost, but the University Museum’s website encourages registering for the event ahead of time.
The symposium will continue on Tuesday starting at 8:30 a.m.
Journalism professor Curtis Wilkie, who will be recognized at the symposium, explained the connection between literature and landscape.
“Eudora Welty was known for her ability to develop ‘a sense of place’ in her fiction,” Wilkie said. “Like a landscape in art, it’s important for writers to set a scene or create an atmosphere with good, strong words — our equivalent of brushstrokes.”
In the curator’s statement, Wilkie added that creativity — whether through writing or art — establishes a “sense of place” for those who consume it.
“To see is to know. Ours is a nonverbal form of communication that can prove difficult to some,” he said. “The two seem at times far apart, but in reality are not.”