(New Orleans) – Ogden Museum of Southern Art announced today that internationally recognized American photographer and author, Sally Mann, will be the 2021 recipient of the annual OPUS Award to be presented at Ogden Museum’s 16th annual “O What a Night” gala on Saturday, October 16, 2021.
Ogden Museum’s OPUS Award is presented to individuals who have and continue to make significant contributions to the vibrant and complex fabric that is the genre of American Southern art. Sally Mann, a photographer from Lexington, Virginia, began her practice in the 1960s and has remained connected to her Southern roots, documenting the people and places of the region in various critically acclaimed bodies of work.
From the late 1990s into the 2000s, Mann honed in on her relationship with the American South, taking photographs in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana for her Deep South series (2005), as well as Civil War battlefields for Last Measure (2000).
Mann’s latest large-scale project, A Thousand Crossings, further explores the complex cultural identity of the American South, as well as Mann’s relationship with her place of origin—a region rich in literary and artistic traditions but troubled by history. The exhibition, which she began working on in 2006, debuted at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. in 2018 and has since traveled extensively in the United States and abroad in Paris.
A Guggenheim fellow and a three-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Mann was named “America’s Best Photographer” by Time magazine in 2001.
“Sally Mann’s work embodies our desire to better understand the American South through art, and has emboldened our visual investigation of the world around us,” says William Pittman Andrews, Executive Director of Ogden Museum. “We are at a great advantage that she has shared her artistic vision with us throughout her incredibly distinguished career as a preeminent photographer. As a chronicler of life, she has captured great beauty in its most ordinary moments and within its deeper mysteries.”
“Perhaps no other photographer has captured the richness and complexity of life in the American South as Sally Mann,” adds Richard McCabe, Curator of Photography at Ogden Museum. “A storyteller with a camera, her photographs focusing on family, memory, history, mortality and the landscape behold an intense visual power. Brave and uncompromising as an artist, Mann is unafraid of thinking outside the box – she follows her heart, and in doing so, has visually defined the American South through photography for almost 50 years.”
“Sally Mann is a shameless Southerner, and the quintessential American artist,” says Mann’s fellow artist and friend, William Dunlap. “Her photographs are true and she writes with the clarity of a seer.”
Ogden Museum is fortunate to have four photographs by Mann in its permanent collection, one of which is a landscape made in 1998 from her Deep South series. Her work was recently featured in a two-part exhibition at the museum, Revelations: Recent Photography Acquisitions, in 2020 and 2021.
Past recipients of the OPUS Award include artists John Alexander, George Dureau, Lin Emery, Lonnie Holley and George Rodrigue. As well as community activist Fran Villere; William S. Arnett, founder of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation; collectors and philanthropists, Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida; entrepreneur and philanthropist, Coleman Adler; and David Kerstein, President of The Helis Foundation.
Ogden Museum’s O What a Night gala is co-chaired by trustees Beverly Dale of San Francisco and New Orleans and Dale A. Mott of Washington, D.C. and New Orleans. In addition to the presentation of the OPUS Award, the event will showcase silent and live art auctions, featuring both emerging and established regional artists. The live auction will be streamed live, encouraging public bids from around New Orleans and beyond. Proceeds from O What a Night support Ogden Museum’s educational mission to share the art and culture of the American South.
ABOUT OGDEN MUSEUM OF SOUTHERN ART
Located in the vibrant Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana since 2003, Ogden Museum of Southern Art is home to a collection of more than four thousand works, making it the largest and most comprehensive repository dedicated to Southern art in the nation, with particular strength in the genres of Self-Taught art, Regionalism, photography and contemporary art. The Museum is further recognized for its original exhibitions, public events and educational programs, which examine the development of visual art. Recent exhibitions include Built: Sculptural Art from the Permanent Collection, Revelations II: Recent Photography Acquisitions, Preservative Force: Recent Acquisitions to the Collection, Outside In, Improvisations of Space: The Ceramic Work of MaPó Kinnord, Roland L. Freeman – Portfolio and Sheldon Scott’s Portrait, number 1 man (day clean ta sun down). Opening this fall is Louisiana Contemporary, Presented by The Helis Foundation, and RaMell Ross’ solo exhibition, Spell, Time, Practice, American, Body.
Ogden Museum is located at 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. For more information, visit www.ogdenmuseum.org.
ABOUT SALLY MANN
To be able to take my pictures, I have to look, all the time, at the people and places I care about. And I must do so with both ardor and cool appraisal, with the passions of eye and heart, but in that ardent heart there must also be a splinter of ice.
Sally Mann is known for her photographs of intimate and familiar subjects rendered both sublime and disquieting. Her projects explore the complexities of familial relationships, social realities, and the passage of time, capturing tensions between nature, history, and memory.
Born in Lexington, Virginia, Mann began to study photography in the late 1960s, attending the Ansel Adams Gallery’s Yosemite Workshops in Yosemite National Park, California and the Putney School and Bennington College, both in Vermont. She received a B.A. from Hollins College, Roanoke, Virginia, in 1974, and an M.A. in creative writing the following year. At a moment when many other photographers were creating large-scale color prints, Mann looked to photography’s past, investigating the visual and metaphorical potential of employing nineteenth-century technologies. She has long used an 8 x 10 bellows camera and has explored platinum, bromoil, and wet-plate collodion processes for making prints.
Mann had her first solo museum exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 1977, presenting The Lewis Law Portfolio (1974–76), a series of black-and-white photographs that comprise some of her earliest explorations into the inherent abstract beauty of the everyday. In the early 1980s she published two books, Second Sight and At Twelve, the latter a study of young girls on the cusp of womanhood. Between 1984 and 1994 she worked on the series Family Pictures, which focused on her three children, then all under the age of twelve. These works touch on ordinary moments—playing, sleeping, and eating—as well as larger themes such as death and cultural perceptions of sexuality and motherhood. From 1999 to 2012, Mann photographed Cy Twombly’s warmly lit studio in Lexington, recording the moments she spent with him there as well as the traces of his artistic life.
From the late 1990s into the 2000s, Mann honed in on her relationship with the American South, taking photographs in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana for her Deep South series (2005), as well as Civil War battlefields for Last Measure (2000). Her longtime interest in themes of death, time, and decay are also evident in What Remains (Bullfinch Press, 2003), a five-part study of mortality ranging from pictures of the decomposing body of her beloved greyhound to photographs of the site where an armed fugitive committed suicide on her property. In 2003, Mann began documenting the effects of muscular dystrophy on her husband, Larry. These candid and frank portraits, which would later become the Proud Flesh series (2009), recall classical sculpture while capturing a male subject in moments of intimate vulnerability.
Mann’s latest large-scale project, A Thousand Crossings, further explores the complex cultural identity of the American South, as well as Mann’s relationship with her place of origin—a region rich in literary and artistic traditions but troubled by history. The exhibition, which she began working on in 2006, debuted at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC in 2018 and has since traveled extensively in the United States and abroad in Paris.
A Guggenheim fellow and a three-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Mann was named “America’s Best Photographer” by Time magazine in 2001. She has been the subject of two documentaries: Blood Ties (1994), which was nominated for an Academy Award, and What Remains (2006), which premiered at Sundance and was nominated for an Emmy for Best Documentary in 2008. Mann’s Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs (Little, Brown, 2015) received universal critical acclaim; it was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Awards and in 2016 won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.
Bio courtesy of Gagosian