The work of a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media assistant professor of journalism will be the focus of an upcoming Meridian photo exhibit.
Professor Alysia Steele’s work will be exhibited along with the work of Mississippi photographer Betty Press in Through the Looking Glass: Life in Mississippi at the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX) museum in Meridian from Friday, Aug. 30 to Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020.
Steele said the museum’s opening reception that she is unable to attend is Friday, Aug. 30. She will be presenting oral histories from her upcoming book COTTON: Voices in the Field Saturday, Aug. 31 from 1-2:30 p.m.
“Betty and I each have 23 images in the exhibit,” Steele said. “Half of my images are from Delta Jewels and the other half are from the upcoming book, currently titled COTTON: Voices in the Field,” she said. “That title may change when we finish the book. We are only halfway done with the book.”
Steele, who is co-authoring the book with her husband, Bobby D. Steele Jr., an instructional assistant professor of branding and promotions in the School of Journalism and New Media, said they expect to complete the book by next summer.
Steele said she was contacted by the curator of the museum who asked her to be part of the joint exhibition that also features the work of Press, who has a photography series called Mississippi: The Place I Live examining black and white relationships in the South.
“I said yes because Betty is a friend, and I love her work,” she said. “Additionally, in early January 2018, the museum asked for me to donate two photographs from Delta Jewels as part of a permanent exhibit at the museum, and they sent a film crew to interview me for a video component of that exhibit.
“I was thrilled and said ‘yes.’ The only thing I asked was for them to sell Delta Jewels in the bookstore, and they agreed. So, partnering with them again for this beautiful exhibit is a true honor. I am also teaching an oral history workshop in November at the museum. Details will be forthcoming about that program.”
Steele is a multimedia journalist and author of the book “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom,” a finalist in the 2015 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards for nonfiction.
The book has been featured in The New York Times, NBC.com, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Public Radio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Essence, theroot.com (owned by The Washington Post), Free Lance-Star, The Clarion-Ledger and Southern Living. NYT bestselling author Bishop T.D. Jake’s featured her story in his Docu-Series.
Steele received her bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree in photography from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication.
She has worked as a staff photographer/multimedia producer at The Columbus Dispatch, a picture editor at The Dallas Morning News and deputy director of photography/picture editor at The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. In 2006, she was part of the photo team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for their Hurricane Katrina coverage where she served as a picture editor.
Steele said she hopes people of all backgrounds who view the exhibit will walk away with a better understanding of how we are all connected in humanity.
“Whereas Delta Jewels specifically curated life experiences from elder black women about life in Mississippi during the Jim Crow era, COTTON will focus on any Mississippian who wants to share their experiences with cotton,” she said.
“We all know this crop has a painful past, and with the climate of the country the way it is now, we want people to hear from others and really pay attention to their stories. Maybe if people listened to each other, we might have more understanding in the world. We want people to walk away with appreciation for others.”Tags: Alysia Steele