The Eudora Welty Portrait Reader
Project curated by Brooke Hatfield, Kate Medley & Emily E. Wallace
~ Click Artwork to See Fullscreen ~
Four Inspired Pairings of Art & Writing
Story by Topher Payne | Portrait by Natalie Minik
Story by Laura Relyea | Photo by Mandy O’Shea
Story by Pearl McHaney | Illustration by Natalie K. Nelson
Ghazal by Caroline Keys | Illustration by Molly Rose Freeman
“From the time in 1946 when Marcella Comès Winslow said that Eudora had ‘an eyelid-fold like Greta Garbo,’ Eudora has inspired painters including Winslow, Paul Matthews, Karl Wolfe, Mildred Wolfe, and the twenty-four artists whose work is displayed here.”
Last night, Eudora Welty’s biographer Suzanne Marrs raised a toast to her friend — the writer, photographer and sometimes painter whose work shaped the literary trajectory of the American South and made an awful lot of people proud to be from Mississippi (and beyond). The occasion was to preview the Eudora Welty Portrait Reader, a 48-page print publication that features 20 illustrations of the author, accompanied by poetry and creative prose inspired by those works.
Why Welty? For a lot of us who grew up in the South and liked words, Welty represented not only what we knew, capturing the characters and cadences of our region, but also the range of what was possible — telling honest stories about a place that continues to struggle and progress.
As President Jimmy Carter put it when he presented Welty the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980: “Eudora Welty’s fiction, with its strong sense of place and triumphant comic spirit, illuminates the human condition. Her photographs of the South during the Depression reveal a rare artistic sensibility. Her critical essays explore mind and heart, literary and oral tradition, language and life with unsurpassed beauty. Through photography, essays, and fiction, Eudora Welty has enriched our lives and shown us the wonder of the human experience.”
Preach it, Jimmy! We couldn’t agree more. So we’re thrilled to unveil the Eudora Welty Portrait Reader, featuring work by artists from across the South. Marrs said it best on Monday evening: “Let’s raise our glasses to Eudora Welty and to the artists who keep her image before us.” And may we suggest, as Welty would, that glass be filled with bourbon.