Paintings on Display at Art Museum

For the first time in more than thirty years a comprehensive exhibition of artist William R. Hollingsworth’s work will be shown at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The exhibit To Paint and Pray: The Art and Life of William R. Hollingsworth, Jr. brings together nearly one hundred fifty works of art from MMA’s collection and regional museums and private collections, including four works from the collections of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

The pieces from the MDAH collection were created between 1937 and 1942. They include a watercolor portrait of Baptist preacher Henry Lewis titled “Uncle Henry,” an oil on canvas showing three children in a rainy landscape, and two designs for a Works Progress Act mural competition.

In addition to the paintings, sketches and photos from MDAH’s collection are featured in the exhibition book of the same name. The archives’ extensive holdings include the William Hollingsworth Photograph Collection, which contains thirty-nine sketches and drawings, and the William Hollingsworth Press Books Collection, which includes photographs, newspaper clippings, and mementos related to Hollingsworth’s career as an artist.

“We’re very grateful to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for allowing us to reproduce archival images, sketches, and illustrations by William Hollingsworth, and other pieces of material culture from his life for use in the exhibition,” said Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art. “These additions help tell a more complete story of Hollingsworth’s life and work as a Mississippian and an artist.”

The Jackson native was known for his paintings of Mississippi landscapes and people. His reputation was growing at the time of his death in 1944.

William Robert Hollingsworth, Jr., was born in Jackson on February 17, 1910. His mother Willie Belle Hollingsworth died ten months after his birth. He attended the University of Mississippi from 1928 to 1929, and then transferred to the Art Institute of Chicago to pursue a career in art. While there he married fellow art student Celia Jane Oakley in 1932. After graduating in 1934, the Hollingsworths moved to Jackson where they lived with William R. Hollingsworth, Sr.

In Jackson, Hollingsworth worked for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and painted at night and on weekends. Hollingsworth was known for his oil and watercolor paintings of Mississippi landscapes and people. He received numerous awards for his artwork, including a gold medal from the Mississippi Art Association in 1936 and the William Tuthill Prize from an international watercolor exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1937. After a life-long struggle with depression Hollingsworth committed suicide in 1944.

The Mississippi Museum of Art is located at 380 South Lamar Street in Jackson. For more information call 601-960-1515.

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