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Exhibition Catalogue

March 4th, 2008 · 16 Comments


Stephen G. Hoffius
Coeditor, Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art

The Ruins of Windsor by Eudora Welty

After three years of editing with Angela D. Mack, the catalogue for Landscape of Slavery, I’m eager to see how the exhibition differs from the book. We took the six essays and Angela’s introduction and tried to fit them together, acknowledging that at times the essayists disagreed with each other, sometimes complemented each other, sometimes expanded each other’s points. But they’re all text with illustrations. The show is all illustrations with text panels. Do viewers get totally different messages from those picked up by readers of the catalogue? Which is more powerful, or more meaningful? The visceral experience of walking through the show or the intellectual spark of reading scholars’ analyses?

I know the visual experience enhances the catalogue, just as the catalogue enhances a trip to the exhibition. But I’d love to hear from people who have delved into both: how are the experiences different, how the same? How is each uplifting or depressing or annoying or exciting? How do they fit into what people have studied about art history or southern history or folklore or anthropology… or whatever?

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16 Responses to 'Exhibition Catalogue'
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  • Dina said:
    on March 11th, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I have really enjoyed the exposition and I have found it extremely interesting and valuable to better understand the black culture.

  • Dina said:
    on March 14th, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I really enjoyed this exhibition. I liked the variety of pieces provided. I thought it helped enhance the eperience and contribute to the overall theme. I really liked the large landscape with the dog and fruit. I found it interesting.

  • Darcel said:
    on March 16th, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    it was very good i loved it.

  • Austin said:
    on March 19th, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    I really think the visual is much more powerful in an exhibit like this to get the feel that a lot of the images intend to portray. The analyses provide a sort of backdrop, not totally necessary to understand the more visceral, but totally necessary to put these points of view in perspective and really understand what your feeling. Without the visual, you would really have nothing, but without the analyses, you wouldn’t have a point of reference.

  • Ama said:
    on March 23rd, 2008 at 12:53 am

    I really feel that the exhibition in the Art Museum along with the Symposium we had the pleasure to attend recently were great ways to reflect on and portray the many different aspects of slavery. Hearing about the history of slaves and seeing visual representations of their pasts are poignant ways to connect with the past. Seeing through the eyes of the artist allows you to see what they see in their minds about slavery and sometimes, that is more than can be accomplished with just words. Yet the spoken word of experts, scholars, and of the slaves themselves sparks reflective thought and background information that we use to form our own opinions about slavery. I must also say that I LOVE the painting by Stephen Marc featuring the black young man (with the marking on his arm) pointing towards the cotton fields in the background. I have it on my wall at this very moment!

  • Julie and Alexa said:
    on March 27th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    We really enjoyed the paintings…especially the big one with the dog and the watermellon, i also liked the simplicity of the cobra basket.

  • Steve said:
    on April 24th, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    The exhibition displays the varying perspective on slavery throughout history. Some of the paintings depict slavery as a benevolent institution while others depict slavery as a malicious institution.

  • HMH said:
    on April 24th, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    I believe actually viewing the art in person is much more powerful than hearing other’s views. When viewing in person, you are able to create your own thoughts and ideas, rather than relying on that of a scholar. It is more intellectually challenging. Not to mention, the art in the exhibition is amazing!

  • lauren said:
    on April 24th, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Walking through the exhibit is very powerful. I feel that you get a good sense of hardships felt by African Americans throughout the centuries. It is often much easier to understand history through artwork than through words.

  • NIkki Kumar said:
    on April 27th, 2008 at 9:37 am

    I think the most interesting thing about having this symposium going on throughout the course of this class was being able to see, in person, the things we were discussing. Seeing Dave’s pot, for example, after discussing it in class gave it so much more meaning for me and I found myself a lot more interested in the things that I could actually see in person after talking about them in class.

  • Kelley said:
    on April 28th, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    I found the exhibition to be extremely informative. I enjoyed every piece that was chosen. There was a balanced mixture old and new works. This exhibition displayed many new aspects to slavery.

  • seb said:
    on May 1st, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    After looking at the plantation catalogue, I do wish that a few works that were skipped over somewhat had been further investigated. It is interesting to know in depth about the works that we are seeing; I often think that it helps us engage even more with the works to know the background. Yes, the plaques do help somewhat, but when we stare at a work not knowing whether or not it is sharecropping or slavery, it is hard to grasp the full meaning.

  • Jacquelyn said:
    on May 2nd, 2008 at 12:09 am

    The Landscape of Slavery Symposium and the exhibition featured in the UVA Art Museum were excellent mediums for further understanding of the complex history of slavery and the slave south. I enjoyed listening to the speakers discuss their unique knowledge of different aspects of slavery. The show featured in the museum encompassed all the realms of the slave south and organized them into a functional, understandable view of life in the antebellum period.

  • Cassandre said:
    on May 2nd, 2008 at 10:00 am

    I really enjoyed the exhibition for the variety of pieces it displayed. In any exhibition of such a controversial time, I think it’s important to showcase ALL aspects and points of view of the era. Following this idea, there were paintings that showed slavery in a harsh and violent way and paintings that portrayed it in a more acceptable fashion.

  • Catherine said:
    on May 2nd, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Viewing the pieces in the exhibition provides a visual and emotional impact that the catalogue does not; however, the catalogue allows one to linger over pieces, study them closely, and come back to them again even after the close of the exhibition.

    The work of modern artists who incorporated artifacts of the slave south into their art–the triptych from Weems’s Sea Island Series, Saar’s Mammy’s Little Coal Black Rose, and Marc’s works from the Passage on the Underground Railroad Series–were especially thought-provoking.

  • Maryama said:
    on May 2nd, 2008 at 11:26 am

    I agree that the art exhibit along with the symposiums were very conducive to understanding the cultural landscape of the south as a supplement to what I have learned in the Arts and Cultures of the Slave South class. I must agree that I really liked the portrait of the South with the contemporary man with the sigma brand on his arm. It forces you to link what we prize in the present to the past which broadens its implications.