Spring 2001 Exhibitions

2001 School Art Festival and Portrait of Narrow Lane
February 4 through March 11, 2001

Saturday, February 3, 3 to 5 pm
Opening Reception for Museum members, students, teachers, and families

Performance: The Hip Pickles, 2 pm, Free

Each year, the School Art Festival fills the Museum's galleries with the imaginative and spirited artwork of students from public and private schools in the townships of Riverhead and Southampton. Visitors to the 2001 School Art Festival also have the opportunity to see an excerpt of the on-going project, Portrait of Narrow Lane by students from the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. This special exhibition is part of an initiative of the Museum's School and Teacher Programs Committee to highlight innovative projects in area schools.

Narrow Lane is a two-mile stretch of road that goes from Sagaponack to Bridgehampton. Hayground students are photographing and interviewing everyone who lives on this road. As the students delve into life on Narrow Lane, they begin to sense the possibility of adventure at the end of every driveway. Questions arise such as: How is the Shinnecock Tribe related to Narrow Lane? Is there a pattern to the waves of immigrants that wash over the road from Africa, England, Mexico, Poland, and Ireland? How are the people who live there connected to each other? How has the use of the land changed from the days of oxen, still fresh in the mind of local farmer and historian Richard Hendrickson, to the oak barrels brought from French forests to the Wolffer Winery? As the students gather photographs and oral histories, they are exploring, visually, demographically, and historically two miles of winding road that crosses the world.

Educator's Preview, Friday, February 2, 4 to 6 p.m.

Teachers and administrators are invited to this private preview of the 2001 School Art Festival featuring a discussion by Jonathan Snow, Hayground Artist in Residence, on Portrait of Narrow Lane. Contact the Museum's Education Department at 283-2118 ext. 21 for reservations.

The Parrish Art Museum School Art Festival and related education programs are made possible, in part, with generous support from the Southampton Rotary Club; and with Public Funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Southampton Union Free School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District.

Faces of Freedom Summer: The Photographs of Herbert Randall
March 18 - May 13, 2001

Members' Opening Reception and Talk
Saturday, March 17, 5 to 7 pm

"They came to Mississippi from everywhere that summer of 1964 to join with local African-American citizens in a national effort to make American democracy work. They would call it Mississippi Freedom Summer."

One of those who came was Herbert Eugene Randall, Jr., a young African- and Native American photographer, then twenty-eight, who came from New York City, hidden for his own safety under a blanket in the back seat of a car, to document Freedom Summer. He was not a photojournalist or a staff photographer for one of the civil rights organizations, but an artist with a camera. In the 1960s, Mississippi was one of the poorest states in the nation and had a dismal record of black voting rights violations. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) sent volunteers into Mississippi during the summer of 1964, a presidential election year, to organize an education and voter registration drive. It was Sandy Leigh, SNCC director in Hattiesburg, who persuaded Randall to spend his John Hay Whitney Fellowship for Creative Photography in Mississippi that summer.

Mississippi Freedom Summer is now considered one of the milestones of the Civil Rights Movement. Yet Randall's photographs endure as more than simply documentation of this tumultuous moment in our nation's history. They capture the human drama of people making the extraordinarily courageous decision to persistently risk their livelihood and their personal safety to claim their right to vote. These photographs show both their courage and their despair, the resoluteness and the discouragement that characterize such human endeavor.

With the exception of a few pictures released during Freedom Summer to the national wire services, most of the photographs in the exhibition have never been seen until now - not even by Randall, who did not print them at the time. In 1998, he donated the 1,759 negatives to the Archives of The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, which organized this traveling exhibition of 100 black-and-white photographs now on a national tour. A book on this body of work, with an introduction by USM University Archivist Bobs M. Tusa, is slated for publication by the University of Alabama Press in February, 2001.

Reared in the Bronx, New York, the second of three children of Herbert Randall, Sr., a factory worker, and Jane Hunter, a homemaker, Randall began taking pictures in junior college before getting married and fathering a son. He taught high school photography in New York City for fifteen years, and then in 1981 moved to the Shinnecock Indian reservation in Southampton, N.Y., where he worked as a school bus driver and custodian. Randall's photographs are included in many major museum collections in the United States, most notably the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Library of Congress.

The exhibition Faces of Freedom Summer: The Photographs of Herbert Randall has been organized by the University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art, Hattiesburg, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council. Its presentation at The Parrish is made possible with generous support from the Albert and Bessie Warner Fund.

The Jefferson Suites: An Installation by Carrie Mae Weems March 18 through May 13, 2001

Members' Opening Reception and Gallery Talk
Saturday, March 17, 5 to 7 pm

Gallery Talk, 5 pm
Carrie Mae Weems

At a time when artists often refuse the burden of intentionality for their work, Carrie Mae Weems's installation The Jefferson Suites speaks resolutely to the power of art to move the viewer both by challenging historical preconceptions and by the deliberate use of beauty. "I want to make things that are beautiful, seductive, formally challenging and culturally meaningful," Weems observes. "I'm also committed to radical social change... Any form of human injustice moves me deeply - the battle against all forms of oppression keeps me going and keeps me focused."

The Jefferson Suites explores issues and possibilities posed by modern DNA technology. Comprised of eighteen dramatic muslin banners displaying digitally-imprinted photographs, it combines strategies of installation art with allusions to the traditional political and public functions that banners have served. Each banner represents some "genetic truth," from Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859) to Dolly, the first cloned mammal; from Timothy Wilson Spencer, the first person executed for a crime whose conviction was based solely on DNA evidence, to the proof that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his slave, Sally Hemmings. The viewer is physically engaged in walking through these floor-to-ceiling banners, and also drawn in by the audio projection of the artist's narration "Let the Record Show," a litany of episodes over the last hundred years in the arena of genetic research and an inquiry about how these truths affect our lives. This spoken narration, which includes an original musical score by composer James Newton, provides both background and context for the photographic images.

Carrie Mae Weems was born in Oregon in 1953 into an African-American working class family. She was given her first camera by a friend in 1971 and used it to document the activities of political groups in the San Francisco Bay area. She notes that she was influenced by the work of documentary photographers Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and especially Roy DeCarava. Weems pursued a formal education in photography, and received a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts and an MFA from the University of California at San Diego. Her study in a graduate folklore course at Berkeley deeply influenced her use of text in relation to the work. For Weems, African-American folklore is tied to the potency of speech in a non-literate culture; speech becomes symbolic action. In The Jefferson Suites, Weems's own image appears on a central banner, in the guise of the "girl singer" with the band--a tangible symbol for the artist as collective voice and transmitter of truth.

Another banner piece, Carrie Mae Weems: The Hampton Project, will be exhibited at the International Center of Photography, New York, from January 27 through April 1, 2001, with a forthcoming publication on the banner projects by Aperture.

The presentation of The Jefferson Suites: An Installation by Carrie Mae Weems has been made possible, in part, through generous support from the Albert and Bessie Warner Fund.