July 27, 2021-November 6, 2021
Narrative art is more than visual storytelling to Ke Francis. He uses it to connect people of all ages, races, and cultures. A special exhibition titled Jugline will feature Francis’ story of The Walking Catfish, as well as lithographs, large woodcuts, book art, and block printing materials.
“It seems that whenever a visual artist exhibits work the audience asks them to explain it. That quickly steals the magic because one of the great aspects of visual art is that it can mean different things to different people. Once I understood what the audience really wanted, I quit talking about the art and started telling stories that paralleled the work. After a few exhibits, I realized I was accumulating short stories and I decided to print them as thin volumes. That was the start of book publishing at Hoopsnake Press in Tupelo in 1992,” said Ke Francis.
Just like narrative art taught later generations how cavemen gathered food, Francis’ The Walking Catfish teaches us that humans are more alike and more amicable than we think. Francis’ twist on this old southern folktale is the story of a boy who befriended a catfish that amazingly, can walk. The catfish becomes a pet and friend, only to come to his own demise in the end.
“This exhibition is great because it touches upon artforms many kids don’t think about as careers-illustration and block printing. I also love what Francis has created through visual storytelling. Jugline creates an experience rooted in art that teaches us we are all connected and can relate to one another. After all, everyone has lost someone,” says Stacey Wilson, Curator of Exhibitions at The MAX.
The exhibit is free with museum admission.