Imes Photo

COLUMBUS, Miss.-- Birney Imes III’s photography has challenged, enlightened and entertained for years.

Much of Imes’ work has focused on the South, especially his home state of Mississippi, so he understands the issues that are timely in this part of the country.

Imes has enlisted the support of the Mississippi University for Women Galleries and the Columbus Arts Council (CAC) to explore some of those issues in “The South: Then and Now.” The exhibition, which will run through the month of September, will feature photographs from The Do Good Fund, Inc. of Columbus, Georgia, and will be split between The W Galleries and the CAC’s Rosenzweig Arts Center. A reception for the exhibition will be from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, at the RAC.

“I was familiar with the collection and asked the curator, Alan Rothschild, if he would loan it to us,” said Imes, whose work has been featured in his three books and has appeared in “Rolling Stone,” “The Village Voice,” “Texas Monthly” and “The Commercial Dispatch.” “I thought it would be great to have concurrent shows at the RAC and The W’s art galleries. It seemed like a good way to get local folks on campus and W students uptown.”

Imes said The Do Good Fund, Inc. is a collection of more than 700 photographs amassed by a Columbus, Georgia, collector on behalf of a charitable foundation for which he serves as trustee. He said the collector makes the collection of photographs of the South available to universities and communities that might not have access to work of this quality. He said the shows, which will feature about 50 photographs each, could have been organized with a number of themes, by race, gender, subject matter and technique, but that he wanted to highlight pictures that “challenged, surprised or that were beautiful” to offer people views into worlds they might not have experienced.

“We seem to have two visions of the South, the South of the past (vestiges of which are still very much with us) and the South of today, which, like the rest of the country, is grappling with issues of race (still), gender and the environment,” Imes said. “Thus the title, ‘The South: Then and Now.’

“This is a wonderful group of photographs. I hope area residents will avail themselves of this rare opportunity to see this much work of this quality in local galleries. Both shows have much to offer, and I hope folks will get to the Rosenzweig Arts Center and The W’s art gallery on campus.”

Dr. Beverly Joyce, director of the MUW Galleries, credits Imes for proposing the collaboration, selecting the artwork, underwriting the loan for the exhibition and transporting the photographs to the venues. She is eager to welcome the community to The W Galleries and the RAC to see such a diverse collection.

“This exhibition is our most significant collaboration with the Columbus Arts Council and strengthens our commitment to serve the community,” Joyce said. “We are thrilled that Birney Imes, himself a nationally known photographer, proposed this project and brought us artwork of such high caliber.”

Shane Kinder, creative director of the Columbus Arts Council, said the CAC has built a relationship with the MUW Galleries in the last few years and that the collaboration with The W and Imes felt “natural.” He said the exhibitions will offer a cornucopia of photography of the South since World War II.

“We also have had the pleasure of having Dr. Joyce serve on our Gallery Committee for some time, so when Birney Imes came to us with the idea, we jumped at the chance to team with such a renowned gallery,” Kinder said.

Imes said the RAC will have the “Then” photographs and the “Now” will be featured at The W. He hopes both collections will begin a discussion about the issues that exist in the South.

“Photography is an art form accessible to all,” Imes said. “By all, I mean children, teens and adults, the artistically inclined and the non-artistically inclined. I hope visitors will leave these shows with an enhanced, appreciative and perhaps more nuanced view of the South and all its complexities.”

The W Galleries are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The RAC is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.


Aug. 23, 2021
Contact: Adam Minichino
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