A Song from the Field

Southern Illinois University



A Song from the Field

A Song from the Field: An Investigation of the Black Experience in the Delta

February 21, 2014

${image-alt} Artist Robert A. Ketchens
${image-alt} Artist William Burton, Jr.

In recognition of Black History Month, the SIU School of Law was proud to host a fine art exhibit and program, "A Song from the Field:  An Investigation of the Black Experience in the Delta." 

The program, which was organized by 1L Lynne Chambers-Ketchens, included artist talks by William Burton, Jr. and Robert A. Ketchens, and a scholarly response by Assistant Professor and Reference Librarian Alicia Jones. Burton and Ketchens are both resident artists at the 14th Street Artist Community Gallery in St. Louis, Mo. Burton is the gallery's chief curator.  

Both artists discussed their experience traveling to the Mississippi Delta Region to gather information about the people and places that gave birth to what is now known as the Blues.  As Ketchens described in his written commentary about his experience creating the body of work:

"The Blues originated in the Mississippi Delta region, in the cotton fields, in the churches, in the 'jook joints,' in the pain and power of a people."

Professor Jones's response included a discussion of the African American experience with sharecropping, and a summary of the legal history, including the Agricultural Adjustment Act, leading up to the Missouri Sharecroppers Strike of 1939. See her List of Resources: African-American Farmers, Unions & Legislation.

Selections from the art exhibit were on display in the Formal Lounge.  A presentation for the law school community was held at 11:00 in the Auditorium, then repeated for the broader community at 7:00 p.m.

Support was provided by the SIU School of Law, the Carbondale Community Arts Southern Arts Fund, the Illinois Arts Council, Black Law Student Association (BLSA), Lexis Nexis, Federalist Society, Student Bar Association (SBA), SIU Black Staff and Faculty Council, African American Museum of Southern Illinois, Meridian High School Art Ambassadors and in cooperation with SIU Africana Studies.