"The ‘American Ballads’ exhibit contains thought-provoking and fascinating images, revealing the steady and curious eye of the photographer," said museum Head Curator Rene Rodgers. "We also get a backstage pass into Stuart's life and travels, and the people he has met along the way. Each and every photograph tells a story! Even casual fans of country music will appreciate this exhibit."
Marty Stuart has been taking photographs of the people and places surrounding him since he first went on tour with bluegrass performer Lester Flatt at age 13. His inspirations include his mother, Hilda Stuart, and her documentation of their family’s everyday life in Mississippi. He also admires bassist Milt Hinton’s photographs of fellow jazz artists and Edward Curtis’s well-known images of Native Americans at the turn of the 20th century.
Stuart’s photographs in ‘American Ballads’ are organized around three themes: The Masters, Blue Line Hotshots, and Badlands. The Masters depicts a number of well-known stars in moments of unguarded intimacy and honesty. Blue Line Hotshots respectfully captures the essence of unique townspeople Stuart has met on his travels, all eccentric characters from the back roads of America. Badlands explores the everyday life and traditional ceremonies of the Lakota people and their culture on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota; Stuart was first introduced to the Lakota people by his former father-in-law, Johnny Cash. Whatever the subject, Stuart is able to tease out something unexpected or hidden beneath the surface through a skillful sense of timing and composition, as well as a unique relationship with the sitters often based on years of friendship and trust.
As part of the museum's companion programming to “American Ballads,” there will be a screening of the award-winning documentary film Rising Voices/Hothaninpi: Revitalizing the Lakota Language in the Performance Theater at the museum on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. EST. The screening is free and open to the public. This moving documentary tells the story of the Lakota tribe's fight to keep their native language safe from extinction and includes four short films by Lakota filmmakers made especially to complement the story.
American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart was organized by the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee. Special thanks to the Massengill-DeFriece Foundation for their support of the exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.
For admission cost, a complete list of events happening at the museum, and a comprehensive look at everything the Birthplace of Country Music has to offer, visit www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.