Origins of the Blues Ring True in ‘A Song From the Field’

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 24, 2015 — “A Song From the Field” opens Sept. 4 in the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

William Burton Jr., A Deal in the Delta. 24x24, Pyography,acrylic,cotton on wood panel 2013“A Song from the Field” is a product of the journey taken both physically and spiritually into the Mississippi Delta by William Burton Jr. and Robert A. Ketchens to examine the cultural influences of the sharecroppers and musicians who migrated into St. Louis. The Blues originated in the Mississippi Delta region in the cotton fields and churches and resonated through the very soul of the artist who used their expressive talent to interpret it.

“From the blackness of Sister Odessa’s face to the whiteness of the baptismal gowns, the tints and shades of color are laid with symbolic intent and historical reference,” Ketchens said.

The works incorporate pyrography on wood along with photographs, acrylics, oils, beads and other 3-D mixed media relating to the motif. Contrasting colors and textures are used to convey the environment that was experienced by the musicians of the time period. Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

The public is invited to attend the artist talk at 6 p.m. Sept. 3. An opening reception will be held from 4-8 p.m. Sept 4. The exhibit will remain on display through Oct. 25. Admission is free.

A demonstration workshop associated with the exhibit will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Sept 4. Seating is limited for this free workshop and pre-registration is required.

A dance performance choreographed by Southeast students will be performed at 7 p.m. Oct. 9. Inspired by the artwork, the solo and duet dances will explore the rhythm and timbre of blues music and its narrative possibilities.

The works in “A Song From the Field” incorporate pyrography on wood along with photographs, acrylics, oils, beads and other 3-D mixed media relating to the motif. Contrasting colors and textures are used to convey the environment that was experienced by the musicians of the time period.

Burton holds an Associate degree from Art Institute of Kansas City. He is the owner and chief curator of Atelier D. Artiste 14 art gallery in St. Louis, Mo.

Ketchens holds an Associate degree from U.S. Air Force School of Health Sciences. He is a resident artist at Atelier D’artiste 14.

The Crisp Museum is located in the Cultural Arts Center at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus, located at 518 S. Fountain St. in Cape Girardeau, Mo. For more information, call (573) 651-2260 or email museum@semo.edu.