The Call of the Wild: Sporting Art in the Mississippi Flyway celebrates the cultural phenomenon of the duck decoy as American Folk Art with more than 200 antique and contemporary decoys from the Canadian Provinces down through Louisiana, as well as decoys from the Atlantic, Midwest, and Pacific Flyways.
The large variety of styles that emerged from the carving of the duck form, with its flowing lines and muted colors depicting plumage patterns, make these floating sculptures unique. Exactly when the wooden decoy made the transition to art is hard to say, but certainly the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, growing awareness of conservation, and the modern mass production of cheap, plastic decoys aided in its transformation. The decoy, once considered only as a functional lure, has now become an important facet of American Folk Art as sculpture with historic and artistic value. The exhibition features the work of celebrated carvers such as Charles Perdew, Robert Elliston, the Ward Brothers, Elmer Crowell, Charles Schoenheider, Paul Lipkey, and John Blair.
Also included were over 30 award-winning contemporary decoys from the annual Ward World Wildfowl Carving Competition, sponsored by The Ward Museum of WildFowl Art in Salisbury, Maryland and considered the most prestigious carving competition in the world. This competition boasts over 150 varieties of bird carvings from highly decorative works of art to functional hunting decoys by 800 of the world's best carvers. Contemporary decoys by local carvers Dr. Allen Hughes and Kerry Smith was also be on display.
The exhibition was enhanced with a wide array of hunting artifacts including punt boats, calls, shells and casings that paint the picture of this Mid-South sporting art as well as a selection of more than 60 paintings, prints, and drawings by such celebrated waterfowl artists as John James Audubon, David Maass, Francis Lee Jaques, George Browne, Harry Adamson.
Sporting art in America goes back to our earliest times; it evolved from our European forbearers who enjoyed paintings and sculptures of hunting and the chase. Early artists played a role in sporting ethics through their paintings, prints and book and magazine illustrations by developing rules of etiquette that gave game animals a sporting chance.
This exhibition curated by Henri L.Wedell, Dr. Leonard R. Johnson, and Byron Webster and its attendant interpretive programs celebrated this cultural phenomenon artistically and historically with a salute to the preservation of the environment.
Generously Sponsored by: Regions Bank, Morgan Keegan, Regions Insurance Group, The Kemmons Wilson Family Foundation, Boyle Investment Company, Equity Inns, Inc. Toof Commercial Printing, Orgill, Inc. and Comcast Cable. Mr. and Mrs. Henri L.Wedell, Mr. and Mrs. John W. Stokes, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John H. Dicken, Mr. and Mrs. James E. McGehee, Jr.