Mary Ann Sampson: Puppets and Poetry

July 22 - December 31, 2022

Puppets and Poetry is a holistic exploration of “the book.” Artist Mary Ann Sampson gives us a look inside and outside the book, guiding us through her process from conception to completion. From codex books to moveable books, Puppets and Poetry examines the origins and techniques of various book structures and bookmaking styles, encompassing six different types of book techniques and structures. This exhibition relays the prevailing themes that Sampson’s books embody – the puppets that she creates and the cadence of the written word of poets.

Sampson was drawn to performance and theatre at an early age, which has become a common subject in her artistic work as an adult. She is fascinated by the persona and mobility of puppets, and with this body of work, she asks the audience to share her curiosity and interest. The puppets and characters that Sampson illustrates could be perceived as comical, grotesque, or demented. However, Sampson does not construct the figures to shock or horrify. She simply nods to the theatre and theatrical caricatures, leaving the viewer to assign their own context and meaning. To her, the viewer is an active participant in the book arts as books are meant to be experienced page by page.

In this exhibition, Sampson’s unique books immortalize the written words of Dorothy Field, a writer and poet, former Alabama Poet Laureate Sue Brannan Walker, folklorist Jim S. Brown, and writer Jeff Weddle. Collaboration with poets and storytellers altered the direction of her career as she became increasingly inspired to print their work. In these cases, the writer’s words have strongly influenced the total vision for the books.

Sampson views her books as a stage. She says, “Flat works and three-dimensional pieces are mostly singular ideas that have fallen off the pages. It’s the plurality of techniques and materials that make them seem different.”

Featured Above: Image courtesy of the artist.

Youth Art Education Policy

Outside of tours, family days, and open house events, individuals who are not enrolled in a class are not allowed in WMA classrooms except by written permission of the Executive Director. Parents may not join children in the classroom during instruction times in order to ensure an atmosphere conductive to creativity. It is important to limit the number of adults to keep the focus on the kids, their learning, and to accommodate limited seating in the studio. Parents are welcome to stay in the museum during class but must remain outside of the classroom during instruction time.

Museum educators are experienced in creating positive learning environments for all ages and are required to go through a background check to ensure the safety of our students. Parents and guardians are encouraged to visit the studio at the end of class to see what their child has created. All docents and volunteers working with children are also required to go through background checks.

Thank you for understanding our policy and priority on the safety and well-being of participating students.

Refund Policy

The Wiregrass Museum of Art may cancel any class with insufficient enrollment; students will be notified and given a full refund. If a student withdraws at least 1 week before the class begins, he/she will be refunded for the full cost of the class. If a student withdraws 24 hours before the class begins, he/she will be refunded for half the cost of the class. There are no refunds after the start date of class, and membership fees are nonrefundable. Students are not enrolled until complete payment is received.

Terms and Conditions

The Wiregrass Museum of Art reserves the right to photograph and reproduce chosen works publication, publicity, and educational purposes. Participation in this exhibition shall be an agreement on the part of the artist to these conditions. The museum reserves the right to exclude works submitted without appropriate preparation (documentation, mounting hardware, suitable frame/mat, etc.), or which are damaged or incomplete. The museum is not responsible for the safekeeping of any works left in its care ninety (90) days after the close of the exhibition.

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