High Museum of Art

Atlanta, GA




African American Self-Taught Art: High Museum of Art Collection


"African American Self-Taught Art: High Museum of Art Collection" is an exhibition of ceramics, textiles and furniture created by anonymous individuals presented alongside paintings, sculpture and drawings by well-known artists from the South, including Bessie Harvey, Thornton Dial, Bill Traylor , Minnie Evans, Son Ford Thomas, William Edmondson and Frank Jones. The show is on view at the High Museum of Art Folk Art and Photography Galleries now through April 15, 2000.

All of the artists included in this exhibition are of African descent, and each takes a personal approach which combines early African heritage with American and European traditions. This cultural combination resulted in art forms characteristic of the Southeast. (left: Ulysses Davis (1914-1990), Beast with Wings, ca. 1988, 39 x 4 1/4 x 11 inches, High Museum of Art Collection, Gift of James E. Allen, in memory of Ulysses Davis)

"In some cases, the artists use traditional materials, styles or techniques as a means of reclaiming a connection to his or her African ancestry," explains Lynne Spriggs, curator of folk art at the High. "While all of the artists may celebrate Africa as a common link, as individuals each offers unique expressions. These works are about creativity and vision, about making sense of one's surroundings and life, and finding satisfaction in that process."

Dilmus Hall's sculpture of a man sitting on a brick pillar while holding a bottle of beer, entitled Drinking Man, exemplifies a creative use of unconventional materials. This concrete sculpture was crafted and reinforced with found objects such as glass, brick, paint, metal pipe, steel and chicken wire. An early 20th century memory jar, also on view, demonstrates a similar interest in bringing together a wide variety of materials and objects and investing them with new meaning. In this case, an anonymous Georgia artist decorated the clay jug with seashells, mirrors, watches, glasses and children's toys, as a memorial to a deceased loved one.

"African American Self-Taught Art: High Museum of Art Collection" offers a wide range of folk art and lends itself to many audiences (i.e. families, school groups, local Atlantans, tourists, African-Americans, Southern folk enthusiasts, artists and historians). This exhibition remains on view for a total of 10 months and serves as an educational tool, while offering an opportunity to experience southern folk culture. (left: William Hawkins (1895-1990), State Office Building #2, 1985, enamel on board, 46 x 55 inches, T. Marshall Hahn, Jr. Collection High Museum of Art, Atlanta)



Read more about the High Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 12/23/10

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