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For Immediate Release
December 09, 2019

Purdue University Fort Wayne Professor Is the Impetus behind New Exhibit at Fort Wayne Museum of Art

Key Info

  • English Professor Mary Ann Cain to speak at Margaret Burroughs art exhibit
  • Exhibit runs now through February 23, 2020
  • Lecture is Wednesday, February 5, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Fort Wayne Museum of Art, 311 East Main Street
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Mary Ann Cain Print-quality image
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Book cover Print-quality image
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Margaret Burroughs Print-quality image

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—A trip to Chicago to do research for a novel in 2003 led Purdue University Fort Wayne Professor of English Mary Ann Cain to meet with Margaret Burroughs, an artist, poet, educator, and community activist. It also resulted in the current exhibit of Burroughs’s artwork at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art (FWMoA).

After their initial meeting and over the next few years, Cain, who is a native of Chicago’s south side, spent time with Burroughs, walking through the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago and listening to stories about the area, about which she knew very little.

Cain relates that as she continued meeting and talking with Burroughs, she got the feeling that Burroughs might have some interest in being the subject of one of Cain’s books. In a recent interview that appeared in Whatzup, a local arts and entertainment newspaper, Cain noted that, “I kind of dismissed it at the time because I wanted to work on my novel. But she did say, ‘Why don’t you bring me to Fort Wayne?’”

Burroughs did come to Fort Wayne, and she gave presentations at the Department of English and Linguistics’ Visiting Writers Series and at the Three Rivers Institute of Afrikan Art and Culture (TRIAAC), formerly known as the Three Rivers Jenbe Ensemble, in spring 2004 and again in 2005.

With the increasing local interest in Burroughs and her works, and continued visits between the two, Cain kept her thoughts of maybe writing a book about Burroughs in the back of her mind.

That changed in 2010, when Cain learned of Burroughs’s death. She gave a presentation about Burroughs’s life, artworks, and community activities in April 2011 at TRIAAC, and says she knew then she had to write a book about Burroughs.

Purdue Fort Wayne’s Office of Research and Innovation hosted a book launch for South Side Venus: The Legacy of Margaret Burroughs (Northwestern University Press, 2018) by Cain this past February, with more than 100 people attending. At that same time, there was a separate campaign underway to bring Burroughs’s artwork to the FWMoA.

Cain’s brother was a member of the museum’s board and mentioned that she was working on a book about Burroughs to one of the museum’s curators. And as they say, the rest is history.

The current exhibition of Burroughs’s works runs through February 23, 2020. Cain will also be a part of the showcase, giving a presentation on Wednesday, February 5, at 6:30 p.m. She will be discussing how Burroughs’s life and art informed each other.

For more information about Margaret Burroughs, Professor Cain, and her book, visit her Facebook page: South Side Venus: The Legacy of Margaret Burroughs.

For more information about the Burroughs exhibit and Cain’s FWMoA appearance, contact the museum at 260-422-6467.

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