High Museum Of Art And Dallas Museum Of Art To Present Pioneering Design Exhibition Exploring The Spectrum Of Sensory Experience

Debut of New Works by International Designers Ini Archibong, Matt Checkowski, Misha Kahn, the Ladd Brothers Laurie Haycock Makela, and Yuri Suzuki

speechless: different by design Opens at the Dallas Museum of Art in November 2019, Travels to the High Museum of Art in April 2020

The High Museum of Art (High) (Atlanta, Ga.) and the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) (Dallas, Texas) announced the co-organization of speechless: different by design, an exhibition that merges research, aesthetics, and innovative new design to explore the vast spectrum of sensory experiences and new approaches to accessibility and modes of communication in the museum setting. Speechless will debut new work by six leading and emerging international designers and design teams—Ini Archibong, Matt Checkowski, Misha Kahn, Steven and William Ladd, Laurie Haycock Makela, and Yuri Suzuki—whose projects were informed by conversations with specialists from prominent academic and medical institutions. Their site-specific installations and new commissions will create participatory environments and distinct situations in which senses merge or are substituted for one another.

The High Museum of Art, Atlanta logo

Curated by Sarah Schleuning, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design and Interim Chief Curator at the DMA, speechless will open at the DMA on November 10, 2019, and remain on view through February 23, 2020. The exhibition is presented in Dallas by Texas Instruments. The High will present the exhibition in Atlanta from April 25 through September 6, 2020.

This exhibition is about blurring the boundaries between senses, media, disciplines, and environments to encourage visitors to interact and communicate through design,” said Schleuning. “speechless is about what makes us as individuals unique—the challenges we experience through ourselves and others—ultimately defining the interconnections among all of us. Our perceptions, experiences, and differences should unite us instead of divide us, heightening our understandings and creating a greater sense of empathy in ourselves and our community.

Sarah Schleuning began to develop this important project while serving as our curator of decorative arts and design, so it feels very fitting, and full circle, to co-organize this exhibition with our esteemed colleagues at the DMA,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., Director of the High. “This exhibition dovetails perfectly with our ongoing and evolving commitment to access. Consequently, we’re excited to welcome audiences with wide-ranging abilities to experience these unique and immersive installations. We hope to learn something important about how such a diverse group of visitors interacts with these works as well as engages with each other within the spaces.

The DMA is committed to offering our audiences opportunities for discovery and for learning about different perspectives and cultures through our exhibitions and collections, and the intersections between them,” said Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “In line with this approach, Sarah’s work on this groundbreaking project—involving years of cross-disciplinary study and collaboration with designers, scholars, and scientists at the forefront of innovation in art and accessibility—is truly pioneering within our field and creates an incredible opportunity to provide a truly distinct museum experience to our audiences. We are pleased to partner with the High in presenting speechless, an exhibition that creates meaningful experiences for visitors of all backgrounds and abilities, and also contributes important scholarship and insight about how museums can innovate with everything from installation to the visitor experience.”

About the Artists

Ini Archibong. Photo Frank Juerey.

Ini Archibong was born and raised in Pasadena, California, where he graduated from the Art Center College of Design. After a period living and working in Singapore and traveling widely, he moved to Switzerland, where he is currently based, to pursue further studies in luxury design and craftsmanship and received a master’s degree from École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL). He has designed furniture for such luxury brands as Hermès, de Sede, Bernhardt Design, Ruinart, Christofle and Vacheron Constantin. He is currently collaborating with the Friedman Benda Gallery in New York and Sé Collections in London, with whom he released the second installment of the Below the Heavens during this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan.

Matt Checkowski. Photo: Shawn Michienzi.

Matt Checkowski is a designer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He has served as the creative force behind the dream sequences in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report; The Sensorium, a first-of-its-kind interactive perfume museum in New York; and the digital media content for a science fiction opera at l’Opera de Monte Carlo; and he was the co-director of Lies & Alibis, a feature film starring Steve Coogan, Sam Elliott, James Marsden, and Rebecca Romijn. In 2006 Checkowski established the Department of the 4th Dimension, a multi-disciplinary studio working at the intersection of storytelling, technology, and branding with clients that include the Walker Art Center, MIT, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, Unilever, Electrolux, and the University of California. His work has been profiled in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Popular Science, among others.

Misha Kahn. Photo: Courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn, Photography by Dan Kukla.

Misha Kahn was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and graduated from the Rhode Island school of Design with a BFA in furniture design in 2011. His work exists at the intersection of design and sculpture, exploring a wide variety of media and scales from mouse to house. Kahn’s approach melds an array of processes, from casting, carving, welding, and weaving, to imaginative and singular modes of production. According to former president of the Rhode Island School of Design John Maeda, “Misha creates work for a parallel wonderland, where traditional perception of material and structure is pushed to the edges of the room to make space for one big party.” His work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collection of numerous museums and public collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Corning Museum of Glass.

Steven and William Ladd in Scroll Space. Photo: Nick Lee.

Brothers Steven and William Ladd have created multi–disciplinary works combining sculpture, performance, design, and social activism since they began collaborating in 2000. They have exhibited at the Musée des arts décoratifs and had solo exhibitions at numerous American institutions, including their hometown institution the Saint Louis Art Museum. Their work is labor-intensive and has varied from large three-dimensional murals to book bindings. Through their Scrollathon® they have worked with over 7,000 people, including children, hospital patients, and special needs individuals. Their work is in the collections of the Musée des arts décoratifs at the Louvre, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Corning Museum of Glass, and Mingei International Museum.

Laurie Haycock Makela. Photo: Carmela Makela.

Laurie Haycock Makela has been a recognized voice of experimental graphic and trans-disciplinary design practice and education for over 30 years in the United States and Europe. She has taught at prestigious institutions in Sweden, Germany, and Los Angeles. She was designer-in-residence and co-chair of the department of 2-D design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, from 1996 to 2001 with the late P. Scott Makela. Their studio, Words and Pictures for Business and Culture, produced print and new media for clients such as NIKE, MTV and Warner Bros. She was awarded the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Medal, the profession’s highest honor, in 2000.  Most recently, she became the first designer-in-residence at USC’s Roski School of Art and Design.

Atelier Swarovski – Design Miami Basel – Wattens Visit – December 2015 (Yuri Suzuki. Photo © Mark Cocksedge.)

Yuri Suzuki is a sound artist, designer, and electronic musician who explores the realms of sound through exquisitely designed pieces. His work looks into the way people experience sound, and how music and sound affect their minds. His sound, art, and installations have been internationally exhibited and he has work in several permanent collections across the world. He began his own design studio in 2013, working alongside Disney, Google, and Yamaha, among others.  

Ini Archibong and Hideki Yoshimoto. Photo: Matt Checkowski.

Harnessing the power and impact of design, speechless offers audiences unconventional multisensory experiences that foster understanding of the varied ways in which we experience the world through our senses. The exhibition presents opportunities for new modes of communicating ideas beyond speech and words. Organized in five major sections, the exhibition is connected by a central introductory space and sensory de-escalation area, through which visitors must pass to move between sections. Six contemporary designers will create spaces that fuse multiple sensory experiences—for instance, rendering sound visible or language tactile. The works include:

  • The Oracle, designed and engineered by California-born, Switzerland-based multi-disciplinary designer Ini Archibong, will explore non-traditional ways of experiencing sound. The space occupied by Archibong’s work will be infused with a soothing, harmonious soundscape created by a custom synthesizer, which removes discordant sound and produces pure sound waves. The installation will feature an array of interactive elements designed to illustrate sound through movement, shape, light, and color, including a pool with an obelisk that visitors can rotate to tune the sound to various bass tones, thereby changing the shape and movement of the water as well; and brass pedestals holding handblown glass shapes that pivot to initiate shifts in light and color. Visitors can turn every element throughout the room to communally alter the sound in the space.
  • Glyph, by designer and filmmaker Matt Checkowski, will explore the creativity behind each designer’s work in speechless and the role of empathy that informs it through a series of narrative and intimate short film portraits of each artist. He is developing a method of word and image translation whereby the filmed speech of each artist will be transformed live into images, offering a new, universal visual language for the ideas conveyed by the creative minds involved with this project.
  • Brooklyn-based designer and artist Misha Kahn will create a meandering coral garden composed of vibrant, dynamic inflatables that will move in multiple ways, inflating and deflating over the course of each day. Visitors can touch, sit, squeeze, and otherwise interact with the inflatable forms, both observing the landscape change around them and themselves participating in the alteration.
  • Scroll Space, presented by New York–based brothers and artists Steven and William Ladd, will be a vibrant and tactile room created entirely of tens of thousands of hand-rolled textile “scrolls.” These scrolls will be made in collaboration with 2,000 community members in Dallas and Atlanta through the Ladd Brothers’ community engagement program Scrollathon®, which brings the arts to underserved populations through hands-on creative workshops. The Dallas program will include participants from the Center for BrainHealth and the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas.
  • The exhibition’s graphic identity and corresponding publication speechless: Beyond Sense  is created by Laurie Haycock Makela, a leader in the field of experimental, transdisciplinary graphic design. Playing with the multiple meanings of the word “speechless,” the publication will explore the evolution of the project, document the installations, and feature conversations between the designers and the curator. Both innovative and accessible, her work contributes to the foundation of total inclusive and interactive experience of the project.
  • Sound Of The Earth Chapter 2, a sound installation by London-based sound artist and designer Yuri Suzuki, will integrate audio crowdsourced from around the world. The work will take the form of a spherical sculpture with which visitors can interact by placing their ears against the surface. Each spot on the sphere represents a different area of the world and will “whisper” back a corresponding sound sourced from that region, enabling visitors to experience the globe in a fresh way, beyond text and words. Anyone around the world can submit audio via the DMA’s website at earthsounds.dma.org.
Misha Kahn. New work for Speechless, computer generated rendering, 2019. Courtesy of Misha Kahn.

speechless is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. The exhibition in Dallas is presented by Texas Instruments.

Support for the exhibition in Atlanta is provided by wish foundation. This exhibition in Atlanta is made possible by Exhibition Series Sponsors Delta Air Lines, Inc., Northside Hospital, and WarnerMedia; Premier Exhibition Series Supporters the Antinori Foundation, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, and Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot; Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporter Anne Cox Chambers Foundation; Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters Tom and Susan Wardell, and Rod Westmoreland; and Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters Lucinda W. Bunnen, Marcia and John Donnell, W. Daniel Ebersole and Sarah Eby-Ebersole, Peggy Foreman, Robin and Hilton Howell, Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones, Margot and Danny McCaul, Joel Knox and Joan Marmo, and The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust.

Steven and William Ladd, Scroll Space, 2019. Photo: Nick Lee.

Generous support is also provided by the Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, and the RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund.

High Museum Of Art To Mount Largest Posthumous Exhibition Of Southern Photographer Clarence John Laughlin’s Work

Career-Spanning Exhibition Will Feature more than 80 prints from the Museum’s unparalleled collection of Laughlin’s photographs

Dubbed the “Father of American Surrealism,Clarence John Laughlin (1905–1985) was the most important Southern photographer of his time and a singular figure in the development of the American school of photography. This upcoming spring, the High Museum of Art (1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA, 30309, 404-733-4400) will celebrate his legacy with the comprehensive exhibition “Strange Light: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin” (May 11, 2020 through Nov. 10, 2019).

High Museum of Art logo

The High Museum of Art began collecting photographs in the early 1970s, making it among the earliest museums to commit to the medium. Today, the High’s photography department is one of the nation’s leading programs with more than 7,000 prints in its collection. These holdings encompass work from around the world made by diverse practitioners, from artists to entrepreneurs, journalists and scientists. Spanning the very beginnings of the medium in the 1840s to the present, the High’s collection has particular strengths in American modernist and documentary traditions from the mid-20th century as well as current contemporary trends. The photography collection maintains a strong base of pictures related to the American South and situates this work within a global context that is both regionally relevant and internationally significant.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Improbable Dome (No. 1), 1965, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of Joshua Mann Pailet in honor of his mother, Charlotte Mann Pailet, her family, and Sir Nicholas Winton, 2017.427.

The High owns one of the largest collections of photographs of the civil rights movement and some of the country’s strongest monographic collections of photographs by Eugene Atget, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, William Christenberry, Walker Evans, Leonard Freed, Evelyn Hofer, Clarence John Laughlin, Abelardo Morell and Peter Sekaer.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Ghostly Arch (#2), 1948, printed 1949, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, bequest of the artist, 1985.109

The High boasts one of the largest and most important monographic holdings of Laughlin’s works and “Strange Light” surveys Laughlin’s signature photographs between 1935 and 1965 from more than 80 prints in the Museum’s collection, including many from a landmark 2015 acquisition that will be on view at the High for the first time.

The High has a longstanding commitment to supporting Southern artists, and we were one of the first museums to develop deep holdings of Laughlin’s work, which we began collecting in the 1970s,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director of the High. “This exhibition will mark our largest presentation of his work and reveal the genius of one of the region’s most pioneering 20th-century artists.”

Laughlin considered himself a writer first and a photographer second, and he saw image making as a form of visual poetry. Known primarily for his atmospheric depictions of the decaying antebellum architecture that proliferated in his hometown of New Orleans, Laughlin approached photography with a romantic, experimental eye that diverged strongly from the style of his peers, who championed realism and social documentary.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Enigma, 1941, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase, 75.76.
Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Bat, 1940, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of Lucinda W. Bunnen for the Bunnen Collection, 1981.93.

The exhibition explores Laughlin’s literary leanings in great depth by placing his photographs in relationship to Southern Gothic literature and other regional literary genres, which were widely popular in the 1940s.  “Strange Light” also attests to Laughlin’s innovative approach and insight into photography’s development.

From allegorical social commentary, to expertly constructed narratives, to bizarre material experimentation, Laughlin’s effort to access a higher artistic potential for photography is evident throughout his career,” said the High’s Associate Curator of Photography, Gregory Harris. “His desire to push the limits of photographic possibility paved the way for generations of artists and the growth of the medium into a tool of magical potential.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), A Living Glance Out of the Past, 1939, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Robert Yellowlees, 2015.44.

The exhibition emphasizes Laughlin’s inventiveness, artistic influences, and deep connection to the written word, with sections focused on his inspirations and major bodies of work:

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Unending Stream, 1941, printed 1973, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase, 75.77.
  • Friends and Influences – Laughlin’s artistic education was self-directed and included extensive correspondences with fellow photographers (including Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, Edward Weston and Wynn Bullock) and a legendary collection of books. This gallery will feature works by several of the key artists who influenced Laughlin’s development and will display some of the catalogues he worked on obsessively during his lifetime.
  • Antebellum Architecture – Hired by the Army Corp of Engineers to document the building of New Orleans’ levees in the 1940s, Laughlin used his spare time along the Mississippi River to document the abandoned plantation homes of the Old South. These eerie architectural images revealed crumbling ghosts of the antebellum past and were Laughlin’s first works to receive attention from galleries and publishers.
  • Natural Forms – Among Laughlin’s thematic groupings, he dedicated several to ubiquitous physical forms, such as rocks and trees. His depictions of the natural world, however, were not meant to be meditations on the beauty of nature but rather to demonstrate the transformative potential of looking at the subject with an imaginative eye. Through darkroom techniques, framing and high contrast, Laughlin animated these forms with emotional, spiritual resonance.
  • Architecture and Haunted Spaces – Architecture was what first inspired Laughlin to make photographs. In the 1940s and ’50s, as the post-war industrial boom was leading to the destruction of older buildings to make way for modern structures, Laughlin exhibited his love of the old by preserving New Orleans’ historic buildings through photographs. He was especially attracted to vaulted ceilings, staircases and molding details, which he photographed in ways that imbued them with haunted energy.
  • Visual Poems – Throughout his career, Laughlin sought to expand the metaphoric possibilities of photography, firmly believing that a picture was never merely about the thing it depicted. These “visual poems,” as he called them, embodied his lofty literary aspirations. In elaborately staged scenes often augmented by experimental printing techniques, Laughlin created countless narrative or poetic vignettes that offered an allegorical commentary on culture and politics while trying to express a deeper spiritual state of being.
  • Process and Experimentation – From double exposures, to collage, to camera-less photographs, Laughlin pushed the possibilities of photography to its physical limits. This type of surreal experimentation was popular in Europe in the early to mid-20th century, while the American school of photography was primarily concerned with documenting reality. As a result, it wasn’t until artists and photographers began to embrace experimentation in the 1970s and ’80s that Laughlin’s work received its overdue recognition and cemented his place in the canon as the “Father of American Surrealism.” This gallery demonstrates Laughlin’s varied disruptions to typical photographic processes and underscores his forward-thinking approach to image making.
Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), Figure with Iron Flames, 1940, printed 1981, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Robert Yellowlees, 2015.41.

Strange Light: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin” will be presented in the Lucinda Weil Bunnen Gallery for Photography, located on the lower level of the High’s Wieland Pavilion.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), A Figment of Desire: Woman as a Sex Object, 1941, printed 1981, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Robert Yellowlees, 2015.42.


Strange Light: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin” is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. This exhibition is made possible by Exhibition Series Sponsors Delta Air Lines, Inc., and Turner; Premier Exhibition Series Supporters the Antinori Foundation, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, and Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot; Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporter Anne Cox Chambers Foundation; Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters Tom and Susan Wardell and Rod Westmoreland; and Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters the Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust, Lucinda W. Bunnen, Corporate Environments, Marcia and John Donnell, W. Daniel Ebersole and Sarah Eby-Ebersole, Peggy Foreman, Robin and Hilton Howell, Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones, and Margot and Danny McCaul.

Generous support is also provided by the Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Marjorie and Carter Crittenden, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund, and Dr. Diane L. Wisebram.

Atlanta’s High Museum Of Art To Present “Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings” This Fall

This Major Survey Exhibition Features More Than 100 Photographs, Including New Work By The Renowned Southern Artist

For more than 40 years, Sally Mann (American, b. 1951) has made experimental, elegiac and hauntingly beautiful photographs that explore the overarching themes of existence: memory, desire, death, the bonds of family and nature’s indifference to human endeavor. This fall, the High Museum of Art will present the first major survey of her work to travel internationally, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings” (Oct. 19, 2019–Feb. 2, 2020). “Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings” will be presented in the High’s Anne Cox Chambers Wing.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), Easter Dress, 1986, gelatin silver print, Patricia and David Schulte

Organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, the exhibition presents figure studies, landscapes and architectural views that are united by their common origin and inspiration in the American South. Using her deep love of her homeland and her knowledge of its historically fraught heritage, Mann asks powerful, provocative questions—about history, identity, race and religion—that reverberate across geographic and national boundaries.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), Deep South, Untitled (Scarred Tree), 1998, gelatin silver print, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund

The exhibition is co-curated by the High’s recently appointed Donald and Marilyn Keough Family Curator of Photography Sarah Kennel (previously with the Peabody Essex Museum), who developed the project with Sarah Greenough, senior curator of photographs at the National Gallery.

“I’m thrilled to launch my tenure at the High with ‘A Thousand Crossings,’ an exhibition that is not only dear to my heart, but also makes perfect sense for the museum, which awarded Sally Mann the first ‘Picturing the South’ commission in 1996. Mann’s drive to ask the big questions—about love, death, war, race and the fraught process of growing up—coupled with her ability to coax powerful emotional resonances from the materials of her art make her one of today’s most compelling artists.”

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), Hephaestus, 2008, gelatin silver print, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund

With this exhibition we continue to recognize of the importance of Mann’s work, which explores themes that will strongly resonate with our regional audience but that also addresses universal human concerns,” said Rand Suffolk, the High’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Greene, Jr., director. “We are delighted to have Sarah on board to lead the project, and we look forward to bringing these powerful photographs to Atlanta.

Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings” investigates how Mann’s relationship with the South—a place rich in literary and artistic traditions but troubled by history—has shaped her work. The exhibition brings together 109 photographs, including new and previously unpublished work, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog that offers an in-depth exploration of the evolution of Mann’s art.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), Triptych, 2004, 3 gelatin silver prints, The Sir Elton John Photography Collection

Organized into five sections—Family, The Land, Last Measure, Abide with Me and What Remains, the exhibition opens with works from the 1980s, when Mann began to photograph her three children at the family’s remote summer cabin on the Maury River near Lexington, Virginia. Made with an 8–x–10-inch view camera, the family pictures refute the stereotypes of childhood, offering instead unsettling visions of its complexity. Rooted in the experience of the natural environment surrounding the cabin—the Arcadian woodlands, rocky cliffs and languid rivers—these works convey the inextricable link between the family and their land and the sanctuary and freedom that it provided them.

The exhibition continues in The Land with photographs of the swamplands, fields and ruined estates Mann encountered as she traveled across Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi in the 1990s. Hoping to capture what she called the “radical light of the American South,” Mann made pictures in Virginia that glow with a tremulous light, while those made in Louisiana and Mississippi are more blasted and bleak. In these photographs, Mann also began to experiment with her process, employing antique lenses, high-contrast Ortho film and the 19th-century wet plate collodion process. The resulting photographic effects, including light flares, vignetting, blurs, streaks and scratches, serve as metaphors for the South as a site of memory, violence, ruin and rebirth.

Sally with Camera, ca. 1998, gelatin silver print. Collection of Sally Mann. Photo © R. Kim Rushing.

Mann used these same techniques for her photographs of Civil War battlefields in the exhibition’s third section, Last Measure. These brooding and elusive pictures evoke the land as history’s graveyard, silently absorbing the blood and bones of the many thousands who perished in battles such as Antietam, Appomattox, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Spotsylvania and the Wilderness. 

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), The Turn, 2005, gelatin silver print, Private collection
Sally Mann (American, born 1951) Blackwater 25, 2008-2012 tintype Collection of the Artist

In the early 2000s, Mann continued to reflect on how slavery and segregation had left their mark on the landscape of Virginia and, in turn, shaped her own childhood. The fourth section, Abide with Me, explores these entwined histories. Two groups of photographs imagine the physical and spiritual pathways for African Americans in antebellum and post–Civil War Virginia: the rivers and swamps that were potential escape routes for enslaved people and the churches that promised safe harbor, communion and spiritual deliverance. This section also includes photographs of Virginia Carter, the African American woman who served as Mann’s primary caregiver. A defining and beloved presence in Mann’s life, Carter taught Mann about the profoundly complicated and charged nature of race relations in the South. The last component of this section is a group of pictures of African American men rendered in large prints (50 x 40 inches) made from collodion negatives. Representing the artist’s desire to reach across what she described as “the seemingly untraversable chasm of race in the American South,” these powerful photographs explore Mann’s own position in relation to the region’s fraught racial history.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), St. Paul United Methodist 04:01, 2008-2016, gelatin silver print, Collection of the artist

The final section of the exhibition, What Remains, explores themes of time, transformation and death through photographs of Mann and her family. Her enduring fascination with decay and the body’s vulnerability to the ravages of time is evident in a series of spectral portraits of her children’s faces and intimate photographs detailing the changing body of her husband, Larry, who suffers from muscular dystrophy. The exhibition closes with several riveting self-portraits Mann made in the wake of an accident. Here, her links to Southern literature and her preoccupation with decay are in full evidence: the pitted, scratched, ravaged and cloudy surfaces of the prints function as analogues for the body’s corrosion and death. The impression of the series as a whole is of an artist confronting her own mortality with composure and conviction.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951) Last Light, 1990, gelatin silver print Joseph M. Cohen Family Collection
Sally Mann (American, born 1951), The Two Virginias #4, 1991, gelatin silver print, Private collection


Born in 1951 in Lexington, Virginia, Mann continues to live and work in Rockbridge County. She developed her first roll of film in 1969 and began to work as a professional photographer in 1972. She attended Bennington College, Vermont, and graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Hollins College, Roanoke, Virginia, where she earned a Master of Arts in creative writing the following year. She has exhibited widely and published her photographs in the books “Second Sight: The Photographs of Sally Mann” (1983), “Sweet Silent Thought: Platinum Prints by Sally Mann” (1987), “At Twelve: Portraits of Young Women” (1988), “Immediate Family” (1992), “Still Time” (1994), “Mother Land: Recent Landscapes of Georgia and Virginia” (1997), “What Remains” (2003), “Deep South” (2005), “Sally Mann: Photographs and Poetry” (2005), “Proud Flesh” (2009), “Sally Mann: The Flesh and the Spirit” (2010) and “Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington” (2016).

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), Battlefields, Antietam (Black Sun), 2001, gelatin silver print, Courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Mann’s bestselling memoir, “Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs” (2015), was a finalist for the National Book Award. In 1996, Mann was selected to inaugurate the High’s “Picturing the South” photography series, a distinctive initiative that creates new bodies of work inspired by the American South for the Museum’s collection. She has received numerous other honors as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2011 Mann delivered the prestigious William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), Battlefields, Fredericksburg (Cedar Trees), 2001, gelatin silver print, printed 2003, Waterman/Kislinger Family


Published by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, in association with Abrams, this richly illustrated monograph constitutes an in-depth exploration of the evolution of Mann’s art through its five sections: Family, The Land, Last Measure, Abide with Me and What Remains. Plate sections are enriched by the inclusion of quotations from Mann herself and from her most beloved authors. Essays by curators Sarah Greenough and Sarah Kennel analyze Mann’s photographic development in concert with her literary interests and Mann’s family photographs, respectively. In their valuable contributions, Hilton Als, New Yorker staff writer and recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism; Malcolm Daniel, Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Drew Gilpin Faust, former president and Lincoln Professor of History, Harvard University, explore literary and photographic responses to racism in the South, Mann’s debt to 19th-century photographers and techniques, and the landscape as repository of cultural and personal memory. Featuring 230 color illustrations, the 332-page catalog will be available at the High Museum Shop.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951),The Ditch, 1987, gelatin silver print, The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Sally Mann and Edwynn Houk Gallery
Sally Mann (American, born 1951) On the Maury, 1992, gelatin silver print, Private collection.

Exhibition Organization and Support
Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings” is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. This exhibition is made possible by Premier Exhibition Series Sponsor Delta Air Lines, Inc.; Exhibition Series Sponsors Georgia Natural Gas, Northside Hospital and WarnerMedia; Premier Exhibition Series Supporters the Antinori Foundation, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot, and wish foundation; Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporter Anne Cox Chambers Foundation; Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters Tom and Susan Wardell and Rod Westmoreland; and Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters Lucinda W. Bunnen, Marcia and John Donnell, W. Daniel Ebersole and Sarah Eby-Ebersole, Peggy Foreman, Robin and Hilton Howell, Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones, Margot and Danny McCaul, Joel Knox and Joan Marmo, and The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust. Generous support is also provided by the Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, and the RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund.

About the High Museum of Art
Located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, the High Museum of Art connects with audiences from across the Southeast and around the world through its distinguished collection, dynamic schedule of special exhibitions and engaging community-focused programs. Housed within facilities designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architects Richard Meier and Renzo Piano, the High features a collection of more than 17,000 works of art, including an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American fine and decorative arts; major holdings of photography and folk and self-taught work, especially that of artists from the American South; burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, including paintings, sculpture, new media and design; a growing collection of African art, with work dating from pre-history through the present; and significant holdings of European paintings and works on paper. The High is dedicated to reflecting the diversity of its communities and offering a variety of exhibitions and educational programs that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists and the creative process. For more information about the High, visit www.high.org.

High Museum Of Art To Reunite Romare Bearden’s “Profile” Series For 2019-20 Touring Exhibition

More Than 30 Of Bearden’s Iconic Autobiographical Works Will Be Shown Together For The First Time In Nearly 40 Years

n fall 2019, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, will premiere “Something Over Something Else: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series,” the first exhibition to bring dozens of works from the eminent series together since its debut nearly 40 years ago. Having opened on Sept. 14, 2019 and then scheduled to run through Feb. 2, 2020, the exhibition will then travel to the Cincinnati Art Museum (Feb. 28–May 24, 2020). “Something Over Something Else: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series” will be presented in the special exhibition gallery on the second level of the High’s Stent Family Wing.

Profile/Part 1, The Twenties: Mecklenberg County, Miss Bertha & Mr. Seth They rented a house from my grandfather. Collages & Montages Romare Bearden, American, 1911–1988 1978 American Collage on board Profile, Part 1: The Twenties Series Support/Overall: 25 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches Collection of Susan Merker

In November 1977, The New Yorker magazine published a feature-length biography of Bearden (American, 1911–1988) by Calvin Tomkins as part of its “Profiles” series. The article brought national focus to the artist, whose rise had been virtually meteoric since the late 1960s. The experience of the interview prompted Bearden to launch an autobiographical collection he called “Profile.” He sequenced the project in two parts: “Part I, The Twenties,” featuring memories from his youth in Charlotte, N.C., and in Pittsburgh, and “Part II, The Thirties,” about his early adult life in New York. For the series’ exhibitions in New York in 1978 and 1981, Bearden collaborated with friend and writer Albert Murray on short statements for the pieces, which were scripted onto the walls to lead visitors on a visual and poetic journey through the works.

Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), Profile/Part II, The Thirties: Artist with Painting & Model, 1981, collage on fiberboard. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Alfred Austell Thornton in memory of Leila Austell Thornton and Albert Edward Thornton, Sr., and Sarah Miller Venable and William Hoyt Venable, Margaret and Terry Stent Endowment for the Acquisition of American Art, David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Fund, Anonymous Donors, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, The Spray Foundation, Dr. Henrie M. Treadwell, Charlotte Garson, The Morgens West Foundation, Lauren Amos, Margaret and Scotty Greene, Harriet and Edus Warren, The European Fine Art Foundation, Billye and Hank Aaron, Veronica and Franklin Biggins, Helen and Howard Elkins, Drs. Sivan and Jeff Hines, Brenda and Larry Thompson, and a gift to honor Howard Elkins from the Docents of the High Museum of Art, 2014.66. © 2019 Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Inspired by the High’s recent acquisition of a key work from the series, “Something Over Something Else” will be the first exhibition to reassemble more than 30 collages from the series. The exhibition design will reference the experience of the series’ original gallery presentations by incorporating their handwritten captions into the accompanying wall texts. The project is co-curated by Stephanie Heydt, the High’s Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of American Art, and Bearden scholar Robert G. O’Meally, Zora Neale Hurston professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University.

We are privileged to organize ‘Something Over Something Else,’ which honors Bearden’s legacy as one of the 20th century’s most influential artists and brings important recognition to this beautiful and powerful series,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director of the High.

We are very excited to reassemble Bearden’s original ‘Profile’ project—and to experience these works along with their captions, presented in the original sequence,” said Heydt. “Bearden was a wonderful storyteller, and ‘Profile’ shows Bearden at his best, using words and images to evoke deeply personal memories. But Bearden also invites us all to find something to relate to along the way. There is a poetry in the arrangement of the exhibition that feels unique for Bearden’s work and this show, which assembles nearly two-thirds of the original group and may be the only opportunity to see those works together again.

Bearden presented the “Profile” series as a shared history—his reflection on a life path that follows the journey of migration and transition in black communities across the mid-20th century. The series is an origin story that tracks Bearden’s transition from rural South to urban North, weaving his personal history into a communal one. Beyond providing the opportunity to explore an understudied body of work, the exhibition will investigate the roles of narrative and self-presentation for an artist who made a career of creating works based on memory and experience. It will also reveal some of Bearden’s broader inspirations, which lend insight into American life in the first decades of the 20th century.

Heydt was inspired to develop the exhibition in 2014 when the High acquired “Profile/Part II, The Thirties: Artist with Painting & Model” (1981), the culminating work in the series and one of Bearden’s only known self-portraits. The collage, which will feature prominently in the exhibition, is a retrospective work in which Bearden brings together important memories and spiritual influences from his youth in the South with broader art-historical themes that guided his career for more than four decades.

The exhibition will be arranged roughly chronologically according to the original presentations, moving from collages featuring Bearden’s early memories to works exploring his development as an artist in New York. Thematically, the subjects range from neighbors, friends, music and church to work, play, love and loss. The works also vary greatly in size. Though some are large, many are diminutive, a deliberate choice by Bearden to convey his experience of revisiting childhood memories. In addition to the wall texts by Bearden and Murray, the galleries will feature an original copy of The New Yorker article and the catalogues from the 1978 and 1981 gallery exhibitions. The High will also show clips from the 1980 documentary “Bearden Plays Bearden,” directed by Nelson E. Breen.

Featured works will include:

Part I, The Twenties:

  • School Bell Time” (1978): this collage is the first work in the exhibition and recalls one of Bearden’s earliest memories.
  • Pittsburgh Memories, Mill Hand’s Lunch Bucket” (1978): Based on Bearden’s memories of the interior of his grandmother’s boardinghouse in Pittsburgh, this work inspired playwright August Wilson to write the play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.” Wilson’s stage set description reflects the composition of the collage, and the two main characters in the play were inspired by another painting in the series, “Mecklenberg County, Miss Bertha & Mr. Seth” (1978).
  • Pittsburgh Memories, Farewell Eugene” (1978): this work features a scene from the funeral of childhood friend who had introduced Bearden to drawing.
Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, School Bell Time, 1978, collage on board. Kingsborough Community College, The City University of New York. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Paul Takeuchi.

Part II, The Thirties:

  • Pepper Jelly Lady” (1981): in this work, Bearden returns to his memories of the South and Mecklenburg County.
  • Artist with Painting & Model” (1981): from the High’s collection, this collage is one of Bearden’s only known self-portraits and a reminiscence on his studio above the Apollo Theater in Harlem in the 1940s.
  • Johnny Hudgins Comes On” (1981): This work features the famous vaudeville performer. According to Bearden, Hudgins’ act inspired Bearden’s own approach to “making worlds” with his art.
Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), Profile/Part I, The Twenties, Mecklenberg County, Daybreak Express, 1978, collage on board. Courtesy of the McConnell Family Trust. © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Exhibition Catalogue
The High, in collaboration with University of Washington Press, will publish a full-color, illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition. Texts will include an introduction by former National Gallery of Art curator Ruth Fine and essays by Heydt, O’Meally, Rachael DeLue (Christopher Binyon Sarofim ’86 professor in American art at Princeton University) and Paul Devlin (assistant professor of English at the United States Merchant Marine Academy).


Something Over Something Else: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series” is organized and supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the Andrew Wyeth Foundation for American Art. This exhibition is made possible by Exhibition Series Sponsors Delta Air Lines, Inc., and Turner; Premier Exhibition Series Supporters the Antinori Foundation, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot, and wish foundation; Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporter Anne Cox Chambers Foundation; Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters Tom and Susan Wardell, and Rod Westmoreland; and Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters the Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust, Lucinda W. Bunnen, Corporate Environments, Marcia and John Donnell, W. Daniel Ebersole and Sarah Eby-Ebersole, Peggy Foreman, Robin and Hilton Howell, Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones, and Margot and Danny McCaul. Generous support is also provided by the Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Marjorie and Carter Crittenden, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund, and Dr. Diane L. Wisebram.


Located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, the High Museum of Art connects with audiences from across the Southeast and around the world through its distinguished collection, dynamic schedule of special exhibitions and engaging community-focused programs. Housed within facilities designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architects Richard Meier and Renzo Piano, the High features a collection of more than 17,000 works of art, including an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American fine and decorative arts; major holdings of photography and folk and self-taught work, especially that of artists from the American South; burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, including paintings, sculpture, new media and design; a growing collection of African art, with work dating from pre-history through the present; and significant holdings of European paintings and works on paper. The High is dedicated to reflecting the diversity of its communities and offering a variety of exhibitions and educational programs that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists and the creative process. For more information about the High, visit www.high.org.