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‘Ozark Women’ exhibit features photography of Joyce McMurtrey


West Plains Council on the Arts is hosting an exhibition of “Ozark Women,” by Mtn. Grove photographer Joyce McMurtrey, through March 14 in the gallery on the mezzanine at the West Plains Civic Center, 110 St. Louis St. The display is open to the public during regular civic center hours.

“Joyce McMurtry’s work captures real people sharing their own stories and images with their own voices. It is also rooted in a sense of place,” said Kathleen Morrissey, president of the arts council. “We learned this through her ‘King of the Ozarks’ exhibit which delved into the lives of a special family from her hometown. Her treatment of ‘Ozark Women’ promises to be equally engaging with thought-provoking nuance and depth. I can think of no better way to honor and celebrate women and Women’s History Month.” Women’s History Month is recognized each year in March.

“I finally feel like an Ozark woman,” said McMurtrey, introducing her exhibit.

“I knew this place was different when I was in the fifth grade and came to visit from Columbia with my dad, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Missouri. My interest in grape-growing stems from him, but my love of the Ozarks is due in large part to the women I’ve met since I moved here in 1976,” she said.

“Tough. Resilient. Rugged. Beautiful. These are words that describe both the Ozarks and the women who make their home here. For this project, I have chosen to photograph women who have lived in the Ozarks for at least 30 years. I believe it takes that long for life and this landscape to create an Ozark woman.

“Ever since I saw the photography of Dorothea Lange, I’ve wanted to take pictures like that. I hope I’ve come close to that with these images of Ozark women.”

WPCA will host a Meet the Artist reception from 2 to 4 p.m. March 2 in the gallery.

Those in attendance will have a bonus opportunity, said McMurtrey: “I’ve asked five women to join me. Each of these women participated in this project. Three will share their stories, one will share her mother's story, and the fifth will talk about what it's like to be a young woman working and raising a family currently in the Ozarks.”

The public is invited to attend, meet the artist and speakers, and discuss her work. The exhibit is co-sponsored by the West Plains Civic Center and West Plains Council on the Arts, with partial funding provided by Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.