“My First Sky”
‘Restoring Kate Freeman Clark’
More than 90 Kate Freeman Clark paintings and artifacts from her life will be on display in a major University of Mississippi Museum exhibition – Lasting Impressions: Restoring Kate Freeman Clark – opening with a reception on Tuesday, March 28, at 6 til 9 p.m.
“The exhibition pays tribute to a prodigious and prolific female artist from Holly Springs. It seeks to reintroduce Kate Freeman Clark’s work to the history of American painting by drawing attention to the ongoing restoration of her career and her canvases,” according to the theme for the exhibition.
This show will be the largest exhibition of her work since a Lauren Rogers Museum of Art sponsored event in 1996 – Summer of ’96 – Shinnecock Revisited: The Inspiration of Kate Freeman Clark by William Merritt Chase.
The University Museum exhibition, continuing until July 22, is coinciding with the publication of a book – “The Artist’s Sketch: A Biography of Painter Kate Freeman Clark” – authored by Jackson writer Carolyn Brown. The book is the third in a series of books about notable Mississippi women. Her previous books were biographies of Eudora Welty and Margaret Walker.
Curators for the exhibition were university faculty – Annett Trefzer, English professor; and James G. Thomas Jr., associate director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
“I was initially drawn to Kate Freeman Clark’s fascinating life story, and as I examined her vast body of work in the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery, she became all the more intriguing to me,” said Thomas. “How could a person with such great talent and obvious drive to create, and who had achieved a not inconsiderable measure of success, suddenly abandon her passion?”
“The experience of selecting Clark’s works from the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery and her personal materials from the Marshall County Historical Museum could not have been more positive or more enjoyable. Walter Webb, Merideth Gray, and Jennifer Bone have such a deep knowledge of Clark’s life and works, and they are more instrumental than anyone in restoring and advancing her place within the canon of American art.”
Trefzer and Thomas spent countless hours selecting paintings from the hundreds displayed and stored at the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery and searching through her artifacts all inventoried at the Marshall County Historical Museum.
“The main concept of our show is to present her work as that of a woman artist,” said Trefzer. “We also want to show the variety of work in terms of styles, themes, and media that she created as a student of William Merritt Chase. We would like the viewer to confront her ‘impressions’ of the world around her, and appreciate her style as a prolific American impressionist painter.
“These canvases have lasted more than 120 years, and we hope more of them will be preserved. We want to make the public aware of this tremendously accomplished work so worth preserving and of Kate Freeman Clark’s unique story that should be included in all books of art history.”
More exhibitions for Kate Freeman Clark paintings are scheduled after the University Museum show. A selection of paintings will leave from Oxford to be on display at the Icons Gallery at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson from August – December 2017.
The painting “Shuford House” (Finley Place) has been selected by the Mississippi Museum of Art to be included in its bicentennial celebration exhibition – Picturing Mississippi 1817 – 2017: Land of Plenty, Pain and Promise – from December 9, 2017, to July 9, 2018.
This University of Mississippi Museum exhibition of Kate Freeman Clark’s work will be followed by an exhibition of Holly Springs artist Randy Hayes’ paintings. Generous financial support for these Holly Springs artists was provided by Lester and Susan Fant III of Washington, D.C.
The Bank of Holly Springs, David Person, First State Bank, Tim and Lisa Liddy, Tyson Drugs Inc., and Ellis Stubbs State Farm Insurance provided additional support.