Visual and Performing Arts

Muddy Waters and Langston Hughes Spread the Blues at Newport and Beyond

Theme and Time Period
Muddy Waters’s accomplishments and influence as a musician have been recognized by many. Most notably, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame (1980) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987). He was nominated by the Recording Academy of the United States for twelve Grammy Awards and won seven.

Muddy Waters and Langston Hughes Spreading the Blues at Newport and Beyond


Muddy Waters (born McKinley Morganfield) grew up in the Mississippi Delta, yet he helped transform popular music in America and Europe. Waters’s notable innovation of amplified electric guitar sound not only expanded the blues but also helped shape rock and roll. His performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island in 1960 was a pivotal point in his career.

Marie Hull (1890-1980): An Adventurous Artist

Theme and Time Period

Any reference to art in Mississippi and the South since the early part of the 20th century would not be complete without Marie Hull. Her art and life as a painter and teacher have influenced hundreds of young artists to make their way in art.

From the 1975 Marie Hull Exhibit brochure

Marie Atkinson made the discovery at the age of twenty, that she “wanted to paint more than anything else.”

Marie Hull (1890-1980): An Adventurous Artist Lesson Plan


Native Mississippi artist Marie Hull approached her art as she approached life — as a series of learning adventures. Her adventures around the United States and Europe, as well as her interactions with people, served as an inspiration for her art. Her natural talent was not only shared through the creation of beautiful works of art, but through the sharing of her knowledge with her students. Throughout her lifetime, Marie Hull’s work was exhibited not only in her home state, but throughout the country and in some cities abroad.

Jimmie Rodgers: The Father of Country Music Lesson Plan


While students may be somewhat knowledgeable about Mississippi’s rich contributions in the field of blues music and rock and roll, they are probably unaware of the state’s contributions to the field of country music. This lesson will enable them to study the content and form of country music and to explore the connections between the genre and the rural, southern environment of the early 20th century. In doing so, they will become acquainted with the life of a famous practitioner from Mississippi; Jimmie Rodgers.

William Hollingsworth: An Artist of Joy and Sadness Lesson Plan


His dream of a career in art led Mississippian William R. Hollingsworth Jr. from his home in Jackson, Mississippi, to the School of the Art Institute in Chicago in 1930. Upon his return to Jackson after completing his education, Hollingsworth worked as a clerk in a government office while continuing to pursue his artistic endeavors. In 1938, he began painting full-time. It would be the beauty and culture of his home state of Mississippi that inspired his finest work.

George E. Ohr: America’s First Art Potter Lesson Plan


The state of Mississippi is home to some of the most well-known personalities in the world of visual arts. The state has an environment of natural beauty and it has served as the ideal location for the cultivation of creative and artistic expression. The Mississippi Gulf Coast was one of the first locations in the state to produce visual artists. Even though George E. Ohr of Biloxi began making pottery in the late 1800s, it would not be until after his death that he would receive national acclaim.

B.B. King, King of the Blues Lesson Plan


In this lesson, students will explore the life and work of “the most popular and influential blues guitarist of the last three decades,” according to Robert Palmer, author of Deep Blues, (p. 178). The life of Riley B. “B.B.” King is, in many ways, reflective of the early hard lives of most Delta blues musicians. No study of Mississippi’s rich cultural history is complete without including the Delta blues and its practitioners, now studied, sung, and imitated around the world.

Women’s Work Relief in the Great Depression

Theme and Time Period

Mississippian Ellen Sullivan Woodward went to Washington in August 1933 to be the federal director of work relief for women, a job that was considered to be the second most important to which President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a woman. Only Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins ranked higher.

Woodward would work in the nation’s capital for the next 20 years. Economic security for women would remain her focus when she became a member of the Social Security Board in 1938 and beyond, when, after World War II, she directed a division of the Federal Security Agency.