Sunday at the Bluff
March 7 at 2 o’clock Plymouth Bluff Center 2200 Old West Point Road Columbus
“Photographic Art of Marion Stark Gaines, Columbus Native & Mississippi’s First Published Woman Photographer” Narrated by Mona K. Vance, Archivist for the Local History Room at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library.
Marion Viola Stark Gaines was born in Columbus on August 10, 1850, shortly before her family moved to Mobile, Alabama, where her father worked as a cotton merchant. She married Captain Abner Gaines in 1879 and moved to “Peachwood,” his family’s plantation and nursery at State Line in Wayne County, Mississippi.
It was at Peachwood that Marion developed her skills as a photographer during a cultural and artistic movement known as Pictorialism. Her photographs incorporate the stylistic influence of this period by transforming her subjects into works of art.
In 1900, Marion won an award in portraiture from the American Camera Club in Mobile and subsequently became Mississippi’s first woman photographer to be recognized by inclusion of her work in several publications, including Ladies’ Home Journal.
In a 1997 issue of Mississippi Magazine, she was described (by Dr. Gene Fant, Jr.) as a “pioneering photographer” whose “photographs provide us a glimpse of a talented artist’s vision of her surroundings, as well as the images of the toughness of farm life at Peachwood Nursery.”
Many of Marion’s photographs depict floral themes in her community and include still lifes of various native plants (and some exotic horticultural varieties), used for landscaping or in floral arrangements.
She also provides unique glimpses of rural life that existed in southern Mississippi during early years of the past century. These include casual photographs of African Americans captured in their daily farm chores, while uniquely posed photos and portraits reveal stoical character in their faces. Several of her images also include Native American women.
Marion’s interest in photography diminished after the death of her husband in 1905. Shortly thereafter, she moved back to Mobile where she remained until her death in 1942. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Sunday at the Bluff programs sponsored by Mississippi University for Women Plymouth Bluff Center are open to the public at no charge. Call 662-241-6214 for information. _________________________________________________________________________