The University Art Gallery is delighted to present the collaborative project Woven Wind, on view in the UAG - and at select sites around campus - from August 23 through October 11, 2023.

Please join us on September 20 at 5 p.m. in Guerry Auditorium for a panel discussion with the artists. Reception to follow. 

Woven Wind brings together photography and video, sculptural installation, music, genealogical research, oral histories, and community clay workshops. It does so in order to activate archival materials, and in order to read past those materials and attend to other voices, specifically those of the enslaved and their descendants.Woven Wind invites us to remember together, and to work towards community and healing in the present.

The project began in 2018, when artist Vesna Pavlović joined Dr. Woody Register and his students in a critical archival investigation of the Lovell Quitman Family archive, housed in the William R. Laurie University Archives and Special Collections of the University of the South. 

The Lovells were part of the Sewanee Community from 1873 to 1939. Their home, affectionately called Sunnyside, stood where dormitory Hunter Hall now stands. The family’s carefully preserved papers include photographs of their lives in Sewanee, but also documentation of their plantations in Mississippi, and of the hundreds of enslaved people held there immediately prior to the Civil War.

Sewanee and its community are intimately tied to other places, including the Lovell plantations in Mississippi and the people once enslaved there.

The Woven Wind collaborative team includes photographer Vesna Pavlović, social practice artists Courtney Adair Johnson and Marlos E’van, musician Rod McGaha, community advocate Mélisande Short-Colomb, and Mississippi civil rights veteran and family history researcher Jan Hillegas.

The exhibition will feature video interviews with the Toles family, descendants of the enslaved connected to the Lovell-Quitman archive, as they consider repair and their own efforts to understand and share their family history. Idiosyncratic clay “cypress knees,” built during community workshops, stand as emblems of memory and connectedness to place. Clay knees placed outside will dissolve over time, and the daffodil bulbs underneath bloom.

The artists would like to thank the Toles family, for welcoming them and for allowing them to listen, and all those who have participated in making clay cypress knees during the Community Clay Workshops at Buchanan Arts in Nashville and at Saint Andrew’s-Sewanee.

Special thanks to Rachel Malde and Fhae Long for leading the workshop at Saint Andrew’s-Sewanee, and to Mandi Johnson, Director of the William R. Laurie University Archives and Special Collections, Sewanee, for her support for the project.

Woven Wind is supported by a Tennessee Arts Commission Arts Access Grant; Vanderbilt University Scaling Success Grant; Mellon Partners for Humanities Education Collaboration Grant; Vanderbilt University, Engine for Art, Democracy, and Justice; Tennessee State University; Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy Catalyst Grant; the Natchez Museum of African American Culture; and the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation at the University of the South, Sewanee.

In Sewanee, Art, Art History, and Visual Studies, the University Lectures Committee, the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race and Reconciliation, the Friends of the University Art Gallery, and the Smith Experiential Learning Grant have all provided further support for the Community Clay Workshop and for the presentation of the Woven Wind in the University Art Gallery. Thank you!

Woven Wind exhibition poster