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Delta State University’s Year of Delta Heritage Unveils New Blues Exhibit

By February 19, 2008General

Life masks of bluesmen by sculptor Sharon McConnell


Delta State University and the Charles Capps Archives and Museum are the recent recipients of a generous gift of a new blues exhibit entitled “A Cast of Blues” bysculptor Sharon McConnell of Como, and formerly Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This outstanding exhibit will open with a reception on Saturday, March 1, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the North lobby alcove of Ewing Hall on the campus and will remain on permanent display at the same location.
Music will be provided by “Blind Mississippi” Morris, whose face is included in the collection.  Sharon McConnell, creator of the collection, will dedicate it during the reception. 
This donation includes almost 60 life masks of bluesmen, each cast directly from the face of the living person.  Blues fans who have long lamented of the lack of photographs of early bluesmen, will rejoice that McConnell has used her talent to preserve the likenesses of bluesmen in these three-dimensional sculptures, each of which captures the minutest details of a performer’s face. 
Blind since her late 20’s from a degenerative eye disease, McConnell expresses her connection to her subjects as a “mapping of their emotional surfaces.”   She says, “I have lost sight, but I have gained vision, and sculpture is a vehicle through which I can access my lost sense.”   McConnell goes on to say about her work, “It’s very intimate in the sense that you’re touching someone’s face and they can feel your intention and your care.  They’re giving me their joy and pain in their portrait, and I’m just kind of mapping it out as my hands go across their face.”
Included in this remarkable gift are the images of Bo Diddley, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Pinetop Perkins, Robert Lockwood, Little Milton, Bobby Blue Bland, Koko Taylor, and a host of others. 
The reception is free and open to the public.  For more information on the exhibit and other events during the Year of Delta Heritage, call the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at (662) 846-4311.