Published: January 2, 2007
The Birmingham Museum of Art will open the doors of a newly designed annex to feature the most comprehensive exhibition of works by Alabama’s premier folk artists on January 14. “Alabama Folk Art” will be installed in a 10,000-square-foot gallery space in the historic Young and Vann Building, 200 Eighth Avenue North. The art will be drawn from the museum’s permanent collection and from private collections in Alabama and throughout the country.
Alabama is recognized as the center of Twentieth Century folk art and boasts more folk artists than any other state. This rich artistic legacy will be celebrated by more than 100 paintings, drawings, sculpture, quilts and pottery. New objects will rotate into the exhibition during the year to explore multilayered relationships between artists and works.
Gail Andrews, R. Hugh Daniel Director the Birmingham Museum of Art, and Emily Hanna, museum curator of art of Africa and the Americas, co-curators of the exhibition, bring to the project not only their expertise and years of experience with the material, but also their personal relationships with many of the artists themselves.
The artists included in this exhibition represent several traditions that have existed in Alabama for generations. Some are self-taught, having received inspiration to create art, but no formal training. Some of these self-taught artists still operate primarily within their home environments; others have exhibited their work nationally and internationally. Other artists belong to a craft tradition that has been passed down through family members, such as the quilters of Gee’s Bend and potter Jerry Brown.
“Many critics and art historians have commented on the breadth, diversity and extraordinary artistic merit of this rich tradition and asked what is unique or special about Alabama to have inspired such a flowering of so many artists in one spot,” says Andrews. “There are undoubtedly many factors, some identifiable, some intangible: the rural nature of the state, the deep roots of family and religion, the strong storytelling and craft traditions, the state’s complex history, its landscape, the character of the population which can be both tolerant of the eccentric and resistant to change, have all come together to create an environment conductive to the creation and acceptance of these works of art.”
Twentieth Century and contemporary artists represented in the exhibition are: Jerry Brown, Chris Clark, Thornton Dial, Howard Finster, Sybil Gibson, Joe Hardin, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Charlie Lucas, Nora McKeown Ezell, Gertrude Morgan, Joe Minter, Benjamin Franklin Perkins, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Juanita Rogers, Mose Tolliver, Bill Traylor, Fred Webster, Yvonne Wells, Myrtice West and the quilters from Gee’s Bend, Ala.
The exhibition will run through December 30, 2007 as part of the state’s yearlong celebration, “The Year of Alabama Arts.” The Birmingham Museum of Art will sponsor programs and events throughout the year. For information, www.artsbma.org or 205-254-2565.
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