‘Mississippi Garden of Rhythm & Blues’ exhibit is open

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Mississippi’s rhythm and blues heritage is usually thought of in terms of sound and musical performance, but a new interactive art exhibition in Brookhaven has added a visual element, as well.

“‘The Mississippi Garden of Rhythm & Blues’ is a collection of Mississippi artists who have come together expressing the different ways that they feel and the different things that they feel from Mississippi blues artists and the history. They took that and they have transferred it into wonderful, beautiful pieces of artwork,” said organizer visual artist Derek Covington Smith.

The interactive art exhibition is presented by The Little Yellow Building art studio in Brookhaven and hosted by The Mississippi School of the Arts. The Little Yellow Building is the creative studio of Smith, a Mississippi native who moved back to his hometown of Brookhaven in 2018. Smith originally opened his studio to teach, but during COVID, he quickly shifted to working with contemporary Mississippi artists to create virtual exhibits. “MSGR&B” is the third show the Little Yellow Building has produced and the first physical one.

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Separated into three parts, the show explores some of the places and players of the Mississippi Blues movement and its effect on Mississippi’s visual artists today.

“We have ‘The Soil,’ and it represents all the places and the things that made up ‘the making of the blues,’” said Smith “We have ‘The Roots,’ which are all the blues artists and the influence that they have given. And then we have our influence, ‘The Blooms,’ what happens when artists are inspired by the lives and the music and the next generations.”

The exhibit invites guests to use their smartphones and learn about the music and history behind each work of art. Author Claire Ishi Ayetoro provides narration.

“We invite you to experience what happens when Mississippi visual artists are under the influence of Mississippi’s rhythm and blues heritage,” Smith said. “Bring your headphones and a smart device to discover the world behind the art.”

The show features work from 31 visual artists from all across the state and will run until Aug. 13. The exhibit is open weekly, Thursday to Saturday 2-8 p.m. and is open to the public.

“It is free to come, although we do love donations — it keeps all of this possible,” Smith said.

For more information, visit TheLittleYellowBuilding.com.