Kirk West Photography: The Blues in Black and White

Curator, Kirsten West and Kirk West

Dates of Exhibition: Nov. 4, 2017 – Feb. 4, 2018

Kirk West, is a professional photographer who has an extensive collection of photographs of Blues icons. Most of these photographs were taken in Chicago where Kirk was a contract photographer with the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times. He worked with Bruce Iglauer, the founder of Alligator Records, for many years and took many albums cover photographs of the Alligator Blues stars. Kirk left his home in Iowa and moved to Chicago specifically because he loved the Blues and wanted to be closer to the source.

  • 65 Images including Albert King, Albert Collins, Son Seals, ZZ Top, James Brown, BB King, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Gatemouth Brown, Bobby Blue Bland, Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Big Mama Thornton, Koko Taylor and of course, the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman, Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi and Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule and many more.
  • Four canvas prints, featuring Bob Marley and Tom Waits
  • Framed 30×30 prints of Buddy Guy and Etta James


The Sepia Magazine Photo Archive: Blues in Review

Curator, Carole L. Anthony

Dates of Exhibition: April 29 – October 13, 2017

Sepia carefully and purposefully documented American popular culture and African-American history with special attention to its predominantly southern and overseas military audience. A select group of photographs debuted at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio in 2009. As a reflection of the magazine’s purpose, the photographs symbolize the diversity, character, and significance of some of the most influential people in music and pop culture’s history.

Images include: W. C. Handy, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Ethel Waters, Nina Simone, B. B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bobby Blue Bland, Etta James, Johnnie Taylor, Guitar Slim, Gatemouth Brown, and more.


January – April 2017

“Women of the Blues: A Coast-to-Coast Collection” Traveling Exhibition Opens January 7, 2017 at National Blues Museum

St. Louis, Mo., October 27, 2016: The National Blues Museum announced its next traveling exhibition, “Women of the Blues: A Coast-to-Coast Collection,” presented by curator, Lynn Orman Weiss. The collection features 60 photographs of ‘Women of the Blues’ of all ages and ethnic backgrounds representing all styles from southern soul blues to Chicago blues & rock blues. The images include artists such as, Mavis Staples and Susan Tedeschi (Grammy winning rock blues icon) to Chicago’s Southern soul blues diva, Nellie ‘Tiger’ Travis, the newly crowned Queen of the Blues, Shemekia Copeland, and many more. This exhibit is dedicated, in tribute, to Koko Taylor’s foundation, Sisters of Royalty.

“This exhibit is the perfect artistic complement to the Women of the Blues section in the museum and we are excited to have it during the time when the country celebrates National Women’s History Month in March,” says Dion Brown, Executive Director of the National Blues Museum.

anne-harris“I have loved shooting and collecting pictures of blues women and recording their emotions, their beauty, their visceral expressions exuding from their souls,” says exhibit curator, Lynn Orman Weiss. “It is my vision that this exhibit captures the heart of the observer and gives them reason to find out more about these extraordinary performers.”

liz_mandevilleSixteen photographers from around the world share their very passionate and powerful images of these extraordinary women, photographed from the stage at the Chicago Blues Festival to the Maui Sugar Mill in Los Angeles, from the Blues Cruise on the Caribbean to festivals on the East Coast.

“You can talk about the Blues without including women, but why? Plus, you really would be doing a disservice to your audience by failing to share all of the complexities of this genre. The women throughout this exhibition, and all women of the blues, add a different kind of emotion and another dimension to this unique art form,” says Jacqueline K. Dace, Director of Internal Affairs with the National Blues Museum.

sherry-pruitt The “Women of the Blues: A Coast-to-Coast Collection” kicked off on June 8th, 2016 in celebration of Chicago Blues Festival. The collection debuted at Firecat Gallery and on the jumbotron at Chicago Blues Festival and will make its St. Louis debut at the National Blues Museum on January 7, 2017. The exhibit will be housed in the Scott and Diane McCuaig and Family Gallery through March 31 and is sponsored in part by Barbara Hammerman and Amanda Gresham.

To learn more about the exhibit, watch this introduction courtesy of HEC-TV

Watch the video below to see Lynn Orman Weiss talk about “The Women of the Blues” exhibit

A Cast of Blues

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson

Dates of Exhibition: July 2, 2016-Dec. 9, 2016

“A Cast of Blues” Traveling Exhibition Opens July 2 at National Blues Museum

40 life-cast sculptures created by blind visual artist Sharon McConnell-Dickerson include Bobby Rush, Pinetop Perkins, and Henry Townsend

The exhibit is composed of the life-cast masks of 40 blues musicians, including Big George Brock, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, and Ruth Brown. The exhibit also includes a bronze sculpture of the hands of blues artist Johnny Winter.

“The work that Sharon has created speaks volumes about her talent and perseverance as an artist – two traits that are integral to the creation of blues music,” says Dion Brown, executive director of the National Blues Museum. “These sculptures give additional depth to the spirits of the artists she has chosen to depict, and helps enhance the viewer’s experience and education in both blues and visual art.” This is a multi-media, educational, interactive exhibit that is designed to be accessible for persons with disabilities, and presented at a level that children can also reach out to touch.

McConnell-Dickerson became attuned to sculpture after being diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease. A former flight attendant and chef, she relocated to Santa Fe in 1996 to study art, and learned about hands-on sculpting while studying in Paris, France. Her practice led her to the landscape of the real Delta Blues men and women where she discovered the people behind the music, captured in hyper-realistic life-masks. Now based in Como, Mississippi, she has given lectures and demonstrations about her work across the country. She is now almost totally blind, and is continuing to produce sculptures as well as large-scale minimalist paintings in oil on linen.

“The life casts I made with the musicians were created by applying a special molding material directly on their skin, then a positive cast is made.  Like in photography, a print is made from a negative, just three dimensional,” says McConnell-Dickerson of her process. “The viewer will discover how the material captures lines of life, emotion, even pores and in some cases, facial hair and scars. I invite all to touch the masks and see with your hands what I felt when molding them.  There will be something revealed through the experience of touch that the eye didn’t see at first glance.”

The exhibition has traveled through Mississippi, Cognac, France, and Dothan, Alabama and was recently seen at the Griot Black History Museum in St. Louis and at the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis. “A Cast of Blues” will open at the National Blues Museum on July 2, 2016 and remain on view inside the Scott and Diane McCuaig and Family Gallery through December 9, 2016.


March – June 2016

HC Porter

Blues at Home Exhibit