SEP 19, 2022 - AUG 7, 2023
Return to Oldfields explores the artistic, ecological, and cultural significance of the historic Lewis House in Gautier, MS (also known as Oldfields) where Walter Anderson famously lived and worked during the 1940s. The exhibition weaves together archival materials and architectural history with Walter Anderson artworks, such as watercolors, wood sculpture, ceramics, and block prints.
In 1941, Walter Inglis Anderson joined his wife and children at his wife’s family home on the bluffs of the Mississippi Sound. The house, built c. 1845, was previously the home of planter, merchant and politician Alfred E. Lewis before it was purchased by Anderson’s wife’s family. Crafted in the Greek Revival style, the house once sat on acres of woodland overlooking the sea.
It is at Oldfields that Anderson began the healing process after hospitalizations in various mental institutions over the previous four years. At Oldfields, Anderson’s wife, Sissy, wrote that the artist “. . . came back to the human race from that far-off journey. . .” The house and grounds, with their years of history, allowed the artist to relearn his craft and create some of the most groundbreaking works of his career.
Anderson combed the beaches and found Native American pottery shards, the motifs of which would influence his own art. He began carving his large-scale linoleum block prints in the attic of the home and built a kiln where he created new ceramic designs. Perhaps most significantly, Anderson pushed off in his skiff from the banks of Oldfields to the barrier island wilderness to begin a legendary and decades-long odyssey that further transformed him as an artist and human.
The Oldfields plantation, and its histories and possibilities, influenced both Anderson and his artwork, and catapulted him into a new phase of his career. The old house was gutted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has sat in disarray until recently when it was purchased by the Mississippi Heritage Trust, who is working to preserve the structure. This exhibition interprets the significance of this historic property, the landscapes surrounding it, and the very concept of the “Southern Home” as it has changed and evolved across time.
Oldfields is located within a residential neighborhood and is not available for public visits. We hope you will enjoy learning about the site through this exhibition and ask that you refrain from personal trips to the property.
We want to respect the privacy of current residents. Thank you.
Return to Oldfields and its programs are presented by
THE HEARIN-CHANDLER FOUNDATION
with support from