Museum Exhibition Offers Unique Look into Power of Photography and Art

Images and Artwork Document Life in Missouri in Honor of World’s First School of Journalism

Columbia, Mo. (Sept. 8, 2008) — A new exhibition at the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology will test Oscar Wilde’s mantra that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life” with an unprecedented showcase of photojournalism and art both documenting life in small-town Missouri.

Hermann, Mo., 1951
Hermann, Mo., 1951: From the Missouri Photo Workshop collection.

“Missouri Through Lens and Palette,” opening Sept. 6, was inspired by the centennial of the Missouri School of Journalism, the world’s first, which is celebrating the occasion with the dedication of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI). RJI is a world-class center for researching and testing solutions for 21st-century journalism.

The exhibition, one of the first of its kind in the world, showcases a variety of artwork styles paired with images from the Missouri Photo Workshop, a premier photojournalism clinic offered by the Missouri School of Journalism. Regionalism, one of the art movements featured in the exhibition, gained popularity in the 1930s for its depictions of the American heartland during the Depression. Similarly, the Missouri Photo Workshop (MPW) was influenced by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) rural photography of the Depression era that produced the likes of Dorthea Lange and Walker Evans. In 1949, legendary Missouri Journalism professor Cliff Edom asked former FSA photography director Roy Stryker to help him create the MPW, which for 60 years has selected some of the world’s most promising photojournalists for a one-week assignment to “tell a picture story” of a small Missouri town.

“The juxtaposition of varying forms of artistic expression brings out the diversity and richness of life in rural Missouri,” said Mary Pixley, associate curator of European and American art at the MU Museum of Art and Archaeology.

Dinner Bell in the Missouri Ozarks
Dinner Bell in the Missouri Ozarks by Charles Albert Morgenthaler (1893–1980). Oil on canvas, 1955.

The exhibit is broken down into three galleries that depict “Identity,” “Land,” and “Main Street.” Fourteen pieces of art feature the work of celebrated artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Birger Sandzén and Charles Albert Morgenthaler. Those works are partnered with more than thirty photos from MPW alumni, including Bill Eppridge, BJ ’60, of LIFE magazine; the late Tom Abercrombie of National Geographic; and Preston Gannaway, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. Each partnering of artwork and photo speaks to one of the three themes, offering a multi-perspective understanding of the similarities and differences of the two art forms.

Inside the exhibit is a special display case designed by Barb Smith that incorporates the architectural details of the new Reynolds Journalism Institute. The display explains the art of photography and the history of the Missouri Photo Workshop. Guides are also available for groups and others wanting an insider’s view of the exhibition.

Down the River
Down the River by Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975). Lithograph, 1939.

The exhibition runs from Sept. 6 to Dec. 24 and is free and open to the public. The Museum of Art and Archaeology is located in 1 Pickard Hall on the University of Missouri campus. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Parking is available on the east side of the building.

The State Historical Society of Missouri also has created two special exhibitions in honor of the centennial of the world’s first school of journalism. “100 Years of Election Cartoons” delves into the enlightening, humorous and – at times – volatile work of political cartooning during election years in the United States. Renowned cartoonists Daniel Fitzpatrick and Bill Maudlin are among the luminaries represented in the exhibit, which runs from Aug. 23 to Jan. 4 at the State Historical Society on the MU campus. Another special exhibit, “Engelhardt on Elections,” features the prodigious work of Tom Engelhardt, a 40-year political cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Both exhibits are free and open to the public from 8 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday. The State Historical Society is accessible via Lowry Mall on the MU campus.

Alumni, students, citizens, journalists, communicators and academics from all over the world have registered for the Sept. 10-12 centennial/dedication event, which will feature the more than 35 Futures Forum sessions, 27 Technology Summit sessions, 11 exhibits and displays, four musical and theatrical performances, two evening meal events, and much more.

About the Missouri School of Journalism and Reynolds Journalism Institute:
Since publishing the student-staffed University Missourian on Sept. 14, 1908, the Missouri School of Journalism has been the international leader in hands-on journalism education, also known as the “Missouri Method.” The first to offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in the field, the School is also the distinguished home of several national journalism organizations, mid-career professional programs and a thriving research agenda. Its advanced curriculum takes advantage of new technologies and practices, a tradition of innovation that will be intensified with the opening of the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI). This 50,000 square-foot facility, created with an initial $31 million gift from the Las Vegas-based Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, will house state-of-the-art resources to test and demonstrate new technologies, experiment with convergence news production and delivery systems, and conduct real-time and virtual seminars and conferences.

Updated: April 29, 2020

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