What will never stop being fun is going to the smaller museums and seeing shows that should be in much larger venues because they’re just that good. It’s like a little surprise. You know for some museums, they’re busy putting together regional art photography, or remixing the permanent collection to look fresh, or they’re making a benefactor’s very particular interest (or gifted collection) be a thing.
But what’s going on at the University of Mississippi Museum right now with Jaime Aelavanthara‘s ‘Where the Roots Rise’ exhibit is special, and a big institution needs to pick this up and give it a larger audience. In the meantime, we can feel really smart about driving out to Oxford and seeing it now (through December 1). And we can fit in some football and some Square Books and some Four Corners chicken-on-a-stick while we’re at it, too. Win, win, win, win, y’all.
This short is great for context:
The exhibit is described at the museum site:
Where the Roots rise, a series of tea-stained cyanotypes, serves as a reminder that the gap between nature and ourselves is smaller than we acknowledge. Decay runs rampant—seasons change—nature lies in await to stake its claim.
above: ‘She Rests in Camellias’
Jaime Aelavanthara’s work articulates humankind’s capacity to decay as a marker of our identity. Set in the swamps and woods of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, natural places where one encounters life and death, growth and decay, the series chronicles the intimate relationship of a feral woman and her surrounding nonhuman environment. The woman collects the bones, branches, and flora and treads with the animals, both dead and living. Recognizing the deaths of other creatures, this woman observes in death, she, too, will be repurposed and consumed by the earth.
The cyanotype process shifts focus from potentially colorful landscapes and figures to patterns, textures, and the relationships of forms within the images. Tea-staining the prints dulls the blue and adds warmth. Printing on Japanese Kitakata paper, which is prone to ripping, tearing, and wrinkling, reflects the deterioration of nature and gives the prints a feeling of fragility. Untamed ultimately reflects upon the forms, the impermanence, and the interconnectedness of natural life.
‘Bones of My Bones’
The Kitakata paper used takes this especially rustic look (plus, it’s tea-stained) and as I was standing there, I was inspired: it might be interesting to do larger-scale prints on paper sacks from, say Piggly Wiggly, and not only use the blank portion of the paper, but overprint on the logo side. I may give that a try.
‘Out of Africa’
The artist’s works (btw here’s her IG) are also available as cyanotype prints on her Etsy.