Kate Medley’s photography of Southern gas stations

The Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) in Jackson’s upcoming exhibition Thank You Please Come Again features work by Mississippi’s renowned photojournalist Kate Medley. On view from April 6 to June 23, 2024, Medley’s first solo museum exhibition features 22 photographic prints recording her ten-year journey through the heart of the American South.

The images capture gas stations, convenience stores, and quick stops, which serve as vital community hubs and gathering places. While Medley’s travels often included stops for tamales, fried fish, and banh mi, as well as gas, the true essence of her work lies in the profound stories and individuals she encountered.

The exhibition coincides with the publication of “Thank You Please Come Again: How Gas Stations Feed & Fuel the American South” (The Bitter Southerner, 2023), which documents Medley’s experiences during many road trips through eleven states. The book’s nearly 200 images are accompanied by essays by Medley and author Kiese Laymon, Professor of English and Creative Writing at Rice University.

“In my travels across the South, I see gas stations as signposts in a strange land,” Medley explained. “They tell me, who lives here? What do they do for work? What do they eat? What do they believe? What is the pace of the day? What is important in their America? Their South?”

A testament to the power of visual storytelling, the presentation reveals a range of responses to Medley’s questions through captivating imagery of signage and vernacular architecture; culinary offerings and provisions; and those who frequent and work in these distinctively Southern places.

The related publication will be available for sale in The Museum store and online.

Thank You Please Come Again will kick off with a discussion on April 5 at 6 PM between Medley and Kiese Laymon, a highly acclaimed author from Jackson who contributed the foreword for the publication. On May 16, 2024, MMA will host its annual Food Truck Festival, which includes over 15 local food trucks and vendors, free art activities, face painting, and more.

This exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit www.msmuseumart.org.

Visitor Information

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 11 AM – 5 PM; Sunday: 1 – 5 PM

380 South Lamar Street, Jackson, MS 39201

About Kate Medley

BMW Pit Stop in Moon Lake, Mississippi (2013). Photo: Kate Medley
BMW Pit Stop in Moon Lake, Mississippi (2013). Photo: Kate Medley

Kate Medley is a photojournalist whose practice focuses on visual storytelling and environmental portraiture. She is deeply engaged in exploring social justice issues and evolving regional politics.

Hailing from Mississippi, she has investigated Civil Rights-era cold cases, covered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and examined the cultural tapestry of the Mississippi Delta. Currently based in Durham, NC, Medley is a contributor to numerous national and regional news outlets.

She earned a BA in Photojournalism from the University of Montana.

About The Bitter Southerner

The Bitter Southerner has a single aim: to uncover the American South in all its truth and complexity — and in the process to break stereotypes about the region and its people by pushing out important, difficult, uncomfortable, irreverent, witty, and addictive stories online. Its work is intended to keep the region honest, inspired, and moving forward.

About the Mississippi Museum of Art

Established in 1911, the Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) is dedicated to connecting Mississippi to the world and the power of art to the power of community. The Museum’s permanent collection includes paintings, photography, multimedia works, and sculpture by Mississippi, American, and international artists. The largest art museum in the state, the Mississippi Museum of Art offers a vibrant roster of exhibitions, public programs, artistic and community partnerships, educational initiatives, and opportunities for exchange year-round.

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