Undeniably touching exhibit, ‘A Cast of Blues’ opens in Mississippi

Cast-resin mask of the face of Bo Diddley, one of 15 on display in A Cast of Blues, opening at the Historic Eureka School in Hattiesburg, Miss., on September 11.

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson, Bo Diddley cast (1928-2008). It is one of 15 resin-cast masks on display in A Cast of Blues, opening at the Historic Eureka School in Hattiesburg, Miss., on September 11.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) – An exhibit about blues legends and juke joints is opening soon in Mississippi, and it’s designed to appeal to the eyes, hands and ears. A Cast of Blues will be on display Sept. 11-Oct. 9 at the Historic Eureka School in Hattiesburg. It features 15 resin-cast masks of blues legends and photographs of blues performers and juke joints made by Mississippi artists.

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson created the resin-cast masks, and the photographs were taken by Ken Murphy, the Hattiesburg American reported.

McConnell-Dickerson, who is visually impaired, said the casts are like 3-D photographs for people who are blind.

“It captures the flesh, muscle, bone, hair and subtle expressions of emotion,”  she said. “I wanted to discover the faces behind the music I love, so I went to Mississippi to map out the visages of the real Delta blues men and women.”

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson, Bobby Rush Cast (b. 1933). It is one of 15 resin-cast masks McConnell-Dickerson created for the A Cast of Blues exhibit.

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson, Bobby Rush Cast (b. 1933). It is one of 15 resin-cast masks McConnell-Dickerson created for the A Cast of Blues exhibit.

The exhibit features Braille labels, a music playlist and a closed-captioned film about the Cast of Blues project. Visitors are encouraged to touch the masks, McConnell-Dickerson said. Among the artists spotlighted are Bo Diddley and Bobby Rush.

The exhibit is also accompanied by the 2008 documentary film, M for Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues.

“There will be fun, interactive components that will allow children the opportunity to learn about the blues through hands-on play,” said Latoya Norman, director of museums for the Hattiesburg Convention Commission. “A Cast of Blues comes with musical instruments that children will be able use to create their very own music and performances.”

The exhibit was curated by Chuck Haddix, music historian, author, radio personality and director of the Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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