Natchez artist selected for Mississippi Museum of Art

Published 5:50 pm Friday, October 28, 2011

PHOTO BY MARCUS FRAZIER This photo, accepted into the Mississippi Invitational, is a real moment depicting a man, boy and dogs.

NATCHEZ — Natchezian Marcus Frazier lets his photos do the talking, and the Mississippi Museum of Art heard him loud and clear.

Frazier was selected as one of 13 state artists for the 2011 Mississippi Invitational. The invitational is a survey exhibit of Mississippi artists, ranging from painters, sculptors, mixed media and installation artists, photographers and more.

Frazier’s photography blurs the line between art and photojournalism — “slices of time” he said, with plenty of play on light, darkness and warm colors that illuminate parts of the frame.

His camera captures scenes from Natchez’s small clubs and pool halls, his subjects sometimes lit with just a flicker of available light.

Frazier himself, though he never appears, is immersed in the scenes he photographs, which might be why his subjects seem to gyrate and laugh without awareness of the camera.

“I like to have a drink, have some fun, snap pictures, wake up and see what I’ve done,” Frazier said.

Frazier’s images depict moments of life from Club Paradise, Danny’s and Nikki’s.

“There’s a mystique to the nighttime,” Frazier said. “If you go there now (during the day), it’s silent. But at nighttime, everyone is having fun.”

Frazier draws those parallels in his photographs since some seem void of life, but on a second look, are alive with light. Images include a row of mailboxes, splashed with a yellow haze from a streetlight; lonely structures set against blackness — he is no stranger to contrasts.

So many of Frazier’s photographs are subjects emerging from darkness, painted in light, which takes patience and a steady hand. And that challenge is what Frazier said keeps him shooting.

Frazier said art is happening everywhere, and he just has to be ready for the moments to unfold in front of him.

“I can leave here, ride down the street and see something — it just happens.”

One untitled photo accepted into the exhibit depicts a man and boy sitting on the foundation blocks of a house that once stood on the corner of Oak and Pintard streets in Natchez.

“I was headed out to the Natchez Trace with my family,” Frazier said. “I rode past those guys, and stopped. My girlfriend said, ‘Leave them alone. You don’t know those people.’ But it was a part of life, and reality is what I want to show.”

After exhibiting his work on a big stage like the Mississippi Invitational, Frazier would like to pursue large exhibitions again, and more.

“I want to stretch out across the world if I can,” Frazier said.

And while Frazier refers to himself as an art photographer, there is still a journalist in him that wants to document life.

“It would be cool to go to Iraq or something where all the drama is,” Frazier said.

Frazier said he’d heard of the invitational years ago, and decided to submit his own work this year. Curators from the museum traveled to meet Frazier after liking what they saw.

The exhibit opened at the museum in Jackson Oct. 7.

Like his photographs, Frazier’s history is unique and varied. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, was a photojournalist for The Natchez Democrat, is the father of three and currently works at Fruit of the Loom in Vidalia. He also makes extra money working as a freelance event photographer.

Frazier said he always loved taking pictures, but an art photography class at the University of Southern Mississippi tapped into the passion he didn’t know he had.

“I got addicted to it,” Frazier said.

The artist said he prefers the look of film cameras, but digital opened up more opportunities for him.

“Digital allowed me to shoot a lot more,” Frazier said. “Though it’s still nothing like film.”

Frazier’s advice to young photographers is to first learn the basics, and take a lot of pictures.

“Enjoy it,” Frazier said. “And keep an open mind.”

The exhibit will be on display at the museum through February.