Fine Art Tourist:OTR 8.0: Mississippi Museum of Art: New Symphony of Time
After several days in Vicksburg, immersing ourselves in Civil War and Mississippi River history (see post – ctsprinterlife: OTR 8.0: Mississippi Part Three), we decided to head east to visit Jackson, before continuing our journey south along the Mississippi River.
Our timing turned out to be impeccable as MMOA was just opening a new exhibit entitled New Symphony of Time. The exhibit is ongoing and part of the permanent collection of the MMOA. The exhibit consists of 170 works by noted artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Albert Bierstadt and Benny Andrews. Additionally, the exhibit includes many works by talented Mississippi artists.
New Symphony of Time expands and illuminates the boundaries of Mississippi’s narrative. Exploring the themes of ancestry and memory; migration, movement, and home; shared humanity; the natural environment; and liberty for all, the exhibition is inspired by Margaret Walker’s epic poem, “This is My Century: Black Synthesis of Time.” (Above paragraph is taken from the curator notes.) The poem is interspersed in the post below.
Throughout the exhibit certain ideas resonate: personal and collective memory, history and the connection to place, as well as the roles artists play in pursuit of civil rights and racial equality.
This is My Century: Black Synthesis of Time by --- Margaret Walker O Man, behold your destiny, Look on this life and know our future living our former lives from these our present days now melded into one.
Queens of the Nile, Gods of our Genesis, Parade of Centuries behold the rising sun. The dying Western sky with yawning gates of death, from decadence and dissonance destroying false and fair, worlds of our galaxies, our waning moons and suns look on this living hell and see the rising sun.
This my century I saw it grow from darkness into dawn. I watched the molten lava pour from red volcanic skies; Islands and Mountains heave into the sea Move Man into the spiraled axis turn and saw six suns and sunsets rise and burn.
Osiris, Isis, black and beautiful gods, When came your spectacle of rythmed life and death? You gods of love on pyres of sacrifice our human hearts become old hearthstones of our tribal birth and flame: the hammer and the forge, the anvil and the fire, the righteous sparks go wild like rockets in the sky. The fireworks overhead flame red and blue and gold against on darkened sky. O living man behold your destined hands control the flowered earth ablaze, alive, each golden flower unfold.
Now see our marching dead The tyrants too, have fled. The broken bones and blood Have melted in the flood.
Cinque. O man magnificent. The gods endowed you well. Prince of our innocence The stars move round your head. You stride the earth to tell your sons and daughters young from island, sea, and land- a continental span- how men are made of gods and born to rule the world. In majesty with monumental hands you bridge the Universe and centuries of desert sands. Bequeath to us your handsome dignity and lordly noble trust.
Gods of compassion, rise In mortal human form. The splendor of your eyes Streaks lightening through the storm.
This is my century- Black synthesis of Time: The Freudian slip The Marxian mind Kierkaardian Leap of Faith and Du Bois' prophecy: the color line. These are the comrades of Einstein, the dawning of another Age, new symphony of Time.
New liberties arise; from Freedom's flag unfold; the right to live and be both stronger and more wise. Each child, a prophet's eyes; each place, a priestess stone. This Beast no man denies the godly-human throne. Each generation cries to touch divinity and open up the sunlit splitting skies.
I have had a good time singing the songs of my fathers the melodies of my mothers the plaintive minor notes of my grandmothers. I heard the drums of Africa and I made the music of Spain. I gave rythym to the world and called it syncopation. All the Calypso brothers have dance music in my head and all my beautiful jazzy greats like old Satchmo, the Duke, the Count, the Duchess, the King the Queen, Prince, and Princesses they were the sons and daughters of royalty in my dynasty. I am a black shoeshine boy made immortal by Barthe and I am a black mother running from slavery.
Look on my bronzed and black-red-mahogany face and know me well. For I am the seed of the earth, the broken body of the Son of God, and the Spirit of the Universe. Drink wine in my memory and pour water on stones singing Libation songs.
I came out of the sun and I swam rivers of blood to touch the moon. I will not flinch before the holocaust for I am a deathless soul, immortal, black, and free.
The MMOA started as a state art association in 1911 and has grown in size and stature. Today the museum collection includes 5800 works and contains works by notable artists including Andy Warhol, Robert Henri, Georgia O’Keeffe and George Bellows.
The museum and the community are clearly demonstrating a commitment to confronting the legacy of racism in Mississippi and to moving forward to help foster a better present and future. Our hats off to the organization and community.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of OTR with Maria and Stephen.
Be seeing you!