Oxford American | "Sacred Place"

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

By Julian Rankin

In April 2019, seven southern explorers, myself included, journeyed to a desert island off the Mississippi coast. We crossed between realities. Through barriers of place and time. Following the ghost of an artist named Walter Inglis Anderson.

Night over the west end of Horn Island

The island is named Horn Island. The product of hundreds of years of windblown sands. It treads water in the Gulf of Mexico. Twelve miles off shore from Anderson’s old stomping grounds of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. We planned to camp for six days. Spread out beneath the stars.

A record of the trip – in print and audio form – is now available fromThe Oxford American magazine.

Learn more about Walter Anderson's relationship to the island in the museum's reinstalled collection, Artist, Naturalist, Mystic.

“In this day of the machine age even a one-mile row is considered an incredible feat.”

– Walter Inglis Anderson, Horn Island Logs

The island won’t stay still. It breathes and moves, grain by grain westward with the prevailing winds, ever closer to the main nerve of the American imagination. It is also shrinking, caught between two dredged channels: one that withholds sand from its tail, the other that stares it in the face. Horn Island is an hourglass, a wise man once told me. It keeps its own time, and ours.


The Museum and its programs are supported in part by the City of Ocean Springs and Jackson County. Support is also provided in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.


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Artwork reproduction courtesy of the Family of Walter Anderson.