“A Cast of Blues” exhibit shares Mississippi history

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- Blues music originated down in the deep south.

The slow, rich voices of soul carried many triumphs and often defeat.

Now,one Columbus woman is re-telling those stories with art.

” A Cast of Blues”…the artist says she wants to connect people old and young to the history of famous blue-singers throughout Mississippi.

And her journey to make it all happen is an inspiration.

All artists have their own perspective.

For Sharon McConnell Dickerson, it’s about connecting to what you’re creating.

Over 60 faces of famous Mississippi Blues musicians hang in the Columbus Arts Council.

” I wanted to preserve their images and present their stories for people to learn about them and for people to always remember and see their image in life,”said Dickerson.

” A Cast of Blues”…Capturing the tiniest details and showing history behind the mask.

“Bobby Blue Bland, R.L Burnside, Pontotoc Perkins, James Cotton. Lot’s of big names,”
said Columbus Arts Council Theater Manager, Shane Kinder.

“It involves using a specialized molding material which is alginate or a skin safe silicone and layers of other materials apply directly onto the skin of the subject covering the entire face,” said Dickerson.

Sharing her work with an audience is an unique experience.

Dickerson is a self-taught, blind artist. She encourages others to feel her artwork.

” I want them to feel what I felt while I was creating them,” said Dickerson.

The project took nearly 20 years to complete,starting in the early 2000’s.

But if you look just across the room at the certain angle,you might catch a glance at yourself in a second exhibit, Broken.

” I was used to seeing a dark silhouette of myself and that was gone that day.I became very sad. I was mad and wanted to break the mirror, couldn’t do that so I broke it with my mind. I picked them up with my mind and pieced them together in that empty frame. I imagined what I might look like in the mirror. Broken up, in fragments, but interesting,” said Dickerson.

The three-dimensional-like creations show images of dogs, flowers, and hearts.

It was a task Dickerson didn’t complete alone.

” Sharon and I muse a-lot. I might have an idea or she has an idea we just talk about what we want it to look like.It just evolves during the process,” said Terri Massey.

Massey has collaborated alongside Dickerson. The duo share ideas, smash beer bottles, car windshields, even shred Italian glass to get the perfect piece.

” Of course we went through a few bandages. We started working with gloves, but it was almost impossible especially for Sharon to feel. We couldn’t do it really without touching the glass. We learned how to handle it carefully.It has been in several galleries shown,” said Massey.

And hopefully community members will interact, with “A Cast of Blues.”

” You can touch it, you can feel it, and listen to it, you can hear it.It’s a big history lesson for the city of Columbus. Hearing the stories she tells about the artists. She’s got a little something about everybody,” said Kinder.

Also, Massey says her Project Save our Shelter is currently on-going, contact her Facebook page for more information.

The Exhibit will be up through the month of April. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


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