James "Son Ford" Thomas and Clay Skull, Leland, 1971
Collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art
In the 1960s and 1970s William Ferris documented the art and music of his native soil, the Mississippi Delta. Raised on a farm in America’s Black Belt, Ferris developed a special affinity for the distinctive culture of the region. Give My Poor Heart Ease brings together black-and-white photographs, field recordings and film of the waning generation of Delta Blues players and the younger generation that would take their place. Alongside these photographs, Folk Art from the William Ferris Collection brings together quilts, paintings and sculpture collected by Ferris during that time, all of which are grounded in the same confluence of cultures, black and white, sacred and profane.
Photo by William Ferris
Following his fundamental research into the culture of the Delta, Ferris went on to found the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, and from 1997 to 2001 was the chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He is currently the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Scott Dunbar, Lake Mary, 1968
From Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues
William Ferris, 2009
From Local Color: A Sense of Place in Folk Art
William Ferris, 1982