Alice Walker exhibit opens Aug. 22 at Oxford College Library

Published 07-31-2014

by Maureen McGavin

Photo credit: Emory Photo/Video, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University.

Alice Walker visited the Robert W. Woodruff Library in April 2009 when the exhibition of her papers opened in the Schatten Gallery.

Emory University’s Oxford College Library and Academic Commons will exhibit selections from “A Keeping of Records: The Life and Art of Alice Walker,” the popular exhibition that ran at the Schatten Gallery in the Robert W. Woodruff Library on the main Emory campus in 2009.

The Oxford College Library exhibit, which will open Aug. 22 in time for Oxford’s freshman orientation, will focus on Walker’s college years and her life as a novelist, poet and activist, says Kathy Dixson, exhibitions manager for the Emory Libraries. Walker is best known for her 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” which was made into an Oscar-nominated film in 1985.

The Oxford exhibit, which will keep the same name as the 2009 exhibition, will feature photographs, drafts of her poetry and novels, correspondence and other materials from Walker’s papers, which were acquired by Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) in 2007.

“This is a wonderful way to extend the life of our exhibits and to share MARBL materials with a broader audience,” Dixson says. “That’s part of the mission of MARBL staff curators, and we’re pleased to be able to present these remarkable materials to the Oxford community.”

Photo credit: Emory Photo/Video, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University.

Alice Walker and Rudolph P. Byrd examined materials from Walker's archive in 2009 before the gallery opening of the exhibition. Byrd, curator of the exhibition, died in 2011, and he and Walker were close friends.

The main exhibition in 2009 was curated by the late Rudolph P. Byrd, Emory professor of American Studies and African American Studies, who died in 2011. The Oxford exhibit will include a tribute panel to Byrd, as well as his original curator’s statement and a photo of Walker and Byrd; the two were friends.

The Oxford College Library, which reopened last summer after extensive renovation, includes dedicated exhibit space with secure display cases in its Fran Elizer Exhibit Gallery. The gallery’s inaugural exhibit, “Oxford College Library: The New Edition,” paid homage to the history of the libraries on the Oxford campus from its days as the original Emory campus from 1836 to 1919.

The new gallery will allow the Oxford College Library to display primary source material from MARBL, says Kitty McNeill, associate dean and college librarian. “In our first exhibit we had in the new building, we were able to bring some of the original Phi Gamma records from university archives to display here in the library because we now have a good, secure area and display space for special collections.”

The exhibitions team at the Woodruff Library plans more selected exhibits taken from the Schatten Gallery’s major exhibitions. For example, tentative plans call for selections from the current Seamus Heaney exhibition at Schatten, which concludes in November 2014, to be displayed at Oxford Library’s gallery space for the 2015-16 academic year, following the Alice Walker exhibit.

“We want to build a connection to the exhibitions in the Schatten Gallery at the Woodruff Library and be able to bring these different exhibits to the Oxford campus to expose our students and faculty to the resources offered by MARBL,” McNeill says.

Clayton McGahee, the Emory Libraries’ “roving archivist,” who has worked on exhibits at the Oxford College Library and Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library, is collaborating with the Libraries’ exhibitions team, with assistance from Jennifer Sirotkin, coordinator of archives and special collections at the Oxford College Library.

Alice Walker’s papers are available for research use at MARBL and are among the top three most-used collections there.

Oxford College Library is located at 134 Few Circle, Oxford, GA 30054. For hours, parking and more information, visit the library’s website.

For media inquiries, contact: