Emory Libraries exhibit examines intersecting lives, work of Benny Andrews, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker

Emory College’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Uncommon Guide Library is at present internet hosting a serious exhibition that brings collectively, for the primary time, the lives and work of three Georgia-born artists: painter/illustrator Benny Andrews and writers Flannery O’Connor and Alice Walker.

“On the Crossroads with Benny Andrews, Flannery O’Connor and Alice Walker,” situated within the Schatten Gallery on Stage 3 of Emory’s Woodruff Library, is open to the general public and runs via Might 18, 2024.

Curators, school and college students met on the exhibit on Alice Walker’s eightieth birthday, Friday, Feb. 9, for an impromptu celebration. Pictured l-r:  Alice Walker curators Nagueyalti Warren and Gabrielle Dudley; English professor Mariana Magliore and Ph.D. scholar Lizette London. Photograph courtesy Emory College.

Andrews (1930-2006, from Plainview), O’Connor (1925-1964, from Milledgeville) and Walker (1944 -, from Eatonton) all emerged from small cities inside a 50-mile radius of one another in center Georgia. Though they moved away from Georgia to pursue their training and lives in different states, their archival papers reside collectively within the Rose Library.

The exhibition attracts its inspiration and supplies from these three collections and from O’Connor’s brief story “All the things that Rises Should Converge.” The three artists are linked via this story, first printed in 1961 and later illustrated by Andrews and addressed by Walker in her brief story “Convergence” and her essay “Past the Peacock: The Reconstruction of Flannery O’Connor.” O’Connor’s story provides a deep critique of white Southern racism as revealed via a racialized encounter on a bus between two pairs of moms and sons.

“Whereas every of those artists is internationally recognized via their writings and artwork, few on this planet have had entry to them via their archives,” says Jennifer Gunter King, director of the Rose Library. “Because of the considerate work of the curators, the exhibit is as a lot in regards to the artists because it is a chance to mirror on the elements that form our personal worldviews, and the way we reply to our worlds via the alternatives we make and the artwork we create. All ages shall be impressed and challenged by the exhibition, and we sit up for the sturdy engagement and conversations the exhibition invitations.”

Emory’s “Crossroads” exhibit examines how Benny Andrews, Flannery O’Connor and Alice Walker overlap geographically as Georgia natives, chronologically throughout their lifetimes, and creatively via their work. Photograph by Paige Knight of Emory Libraries.

Creating “On the Crossroads”

Curators for the “On the Crossroads” exhibit embrace the next for every featured artist:

  • Benny Andrews: Tina Dunkley, artist, Clark Atlanta College Artwork Museum curator emerita and creator of “The Merikins: Forgotten Freedom Fighters within the Conflict of 1812”
  • Flannery O’Connor: Rosemary M. Magee, Rose Library director emerita and “Conversations with Flannery O’Connor” editor, and Amy Alznauer, creator of the kids’s guide “The Unusual Birds of Flannery O’Connor”
  • Alice Walker: Nagueyalti Warren, Emory College African American research professor emerita and creator of “Alice Walker’s Metaphysics,” and Gabrielle M. Dudley, Rose Library assistant director of public providers

The thought for the exhibition emerged in 2019 when Joseph Crespino, Emory’s Jimmy Carter Professor of Historical past, and Pellom McDaniels III, then-Rose Library curator of African American collections, shared Andrews’ illustrated, restricted version guide with Emory undergraduate college students. The 2 imagined how impactful it might be to show the amount in an exhibition setting. Although McDaniels handed away in April 2020, that authentic imaginative and prescient informs this exhibition.

By way of the objects on view, guests will acquire a way of the artists’ creativity, personalities, complexities and worldviews via their work and private letters. 

Among the many gadgets within the exhibition are:

  • Childhood and household pictures, sketchbooks, drafts and authentic completed art work from Andrews’ in depth profession; choices from his private writings and journal entries; and private memorabilia, together with correspondence and invites to gallery openings;
  • By no means-before displayed supplies from O’Connor’s papers, together with childhood drawings and writings; literary drafts and manuscripts of her brief tales and her novel “Sensible Blood;” non-public letters with buddies and colleagues; and intimate private gadgets similar to her passport, rosary beads and a prayer guide; and
  • Walker’s teenage scrapbook stuffed with poems, clippings and pictures; pictures of Walker and her family and friends members from her time in Georgia, New York, Mississippi and California; choices from her earliest journal and brief story writings to her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Coloration Purple;” and a home made quilt and different artifacts from her life. 

Emory Libraries’ exhibition crew was charged with designing this thought-provoking exhibition, drawing on the curators’ scholarship to reveal how these three completely different artists’ work intersected.

“This exhibition, by its subject material, scope and complexity, has challenged us,” says exhibitions supervisor Kathy Dixson. “A number of individuals have been concerned in bringing this undertaking collectively in its remaining kind. I’m assured that their wonderful work will impress and encourage audiences — from individuals who have by no means learn a guide by O’Connor or Walker or considered an art work by Andrews, to those that have researched their lives and works extensively.”    

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