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Georgia Museum of Art to Organize The South in Black and White: The Works of James E. Routh Jr., 1939-1946
ATHENS, GA.- The exhibition The South in Black and White: The Works of James E. Routh Jr., 1939-1946 will be on view at the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum from July 20 through October 2, 2009. Organized by the Georgia Museum of Art, this landmark exhibition of James Routh’s work contains prints and drawings of images gathered on his travels throughout the South during the Depression.

James Routh was born in New Orleans in 1918 but grew up in Atlanta. Routh graduated from Oglethorpe College, now Oglethorpe University, and then studied at the Art Students League in New York. Routh then applied for a Rosenwald fellowship to fund his proposed travel through the South. He planned to gather information for a series of prints, stating that he wanted to “paint a number of pictures concerned simply with scenes of everyday life in the South.”

This exhibition contains the images that resulted from Routh’s travel in 1940 and 1941 as a result of the fellowship. Routh sketched as he traveled through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana during the hard years of the Depression, then later created prints and paintings from those drawings.

In 1940, the rural Georgia that Routh observed was dominated by the cotton industry. Even as early as the mid-19th century, Georgia’s soil revealed signs of the damage cotton cultivation and its associated agricultural practices had created, and Routh’s images document this damage as well as the impoverished state of the South during the Depression.

Routh’s prints also capture agricultural scenes that have been lost in the urbanization of Atlanta and its suburbs. Many of the landscapes in his rural images are now buried in the heart of the city.

After fighting in World War II with the U.S. Army and following a career in advertising, Routh retired in 1983 to Waynesville, N.C., where he lives today.

"Jim Routh's graphic works, which date from just before World War II, picture a world which no longer exists, a world of manual labor in agriculture and pollution and environmental degradation in industry," said Stephen Goldfarb, curator of the exhibition.

The Robert C. Williams Paper Museum, located on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga., is an acclaimed resource on the history of paper and paper technology.





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