Special Exhibit: Our Living Past - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Special Exhibit: Our Living Past

April 18, 2021 - September 30, 2021

Text graphic: Our Living Past

Dates: April 18, 2021 – September 30, 2021

Location: Special Exhibits Gallery, Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Timothy Duffy has been photographing musicians in the South for 35 years and is the founder of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Hillsborough, North Carolina, that helps elderly musicians meet their basic needs so that they can share their music with the world. The exhibit Our Living Past: Platinum Portraits of Southern Music Makers features portraits of these musicians and still lifes of Southern scenes in the form of 25 palladium prints created from Duffy’s wet-plate photographs. The portraits featured in the exhibit range from little known harmonica players and blues singers like Dr. Dixon, Algia Mae Hinton, and Lena Mae Perry, to more famous, contemporary artists. Soul singer Sharon Jones, slide guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks, and blues legend Taj Mahal have all had their portraits taken in Duffy’s unique style and are also featured in the exhibit. These evocative images give a glimpse into the rich historical narrative and vital culture of Southern traditional music. Duffy’s life work – to preserve this culture – now takes on a tangible form through Our Living Past and works to ensure that these important living links to our history get the recognition they deserve.

Several pieces of folk art made by Music Maker artists will be on display with the photographs.

Related programming has included an interview with Music Maker Relief Foundation co-founder Denise Duffy on Museum Talk with Rene & Scotty on Radio Bristol on Thursday, April 29 at 12:00 p.m. that can be listened to via the show’s archive. We are also hosting a Virtual Speaker Series presentation by Tim Duffy on Tuesday, July 6, 7:00 p.m.

Check out this video of Tim Duffy photographing Ironing Board Sam for the cover photograph for his book Blue Muse:

The Music Maker Relief Foundation was founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Music Maker gives future generations access to their heritage through documentation and performance programs that build knowledge and appreciation of America’s musical traditions.


April 18, 2021
September 30, 2021
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