Our We Are the Music Makers! exhibit has been a year and change in the making. Really, the idea has been ruminating for all the years I have been a part of the Music Maker team, but began to take real shape last spring, as we planned out our 20th Anniversary year. “Wouldn’t it be great to have a photo exhibit up?” turned into an incredibly detailed and specific plan, assisted by Bill Ferris of the Center for the Study of the American South, and Tom Hanchett and Kate Baillon Van Rensburg of the Levine Museum of the New South, to create a panel exhibit featuring photography and audio from Music Maker’s extensive collection. Featuring photos of Music Maker artists by Tim Duffy, and accompanied by audio and video further telling the story of roots music in the south, the exhibit began to take shape. It was designed and created this past spring, and we planned to launch it at our 20th Anniversary celebration in October.
Its now one year after we began our planning and I can truly say this is one of the best projects I have ever been a part of, anywhere. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center offered to preview our exhibit before it went to Carrboro for our Homecoming, and so we sped up production to meet that deadline. I just returned from a short trip up to NYC to meet with the NYPL staff and assist in the installation of the exhibit.
After months of planning, editing, fretting, more editing, more fretting – finally seeing the panels up and watching people stop and stare, mesmerized, as one or more of the photographs captured their attention, was wonderful. I tested out the iPad that allows exhibit visitors to access ourmobile site and experience audio from the artists featured, but I had to step aside when a line of people formed behind me, all eager to hear the voices of the faces they had been entranced by.
The exhibit will be on display in New York until August 30th. It will then travel to the ArtsCenter in Carrboro for its official launch during our 20th Anniversary Homecoming weekend, and from there will travel to various locations around the country for the next seven years. This project will reach thousands of new people, showcasing the musicians that form the backbone of American music, and increasing appreciation of Roots music wherever it travels. Its impact will be long-term, and I am so proud to have been a part of its creation.