#outsiderartfair Question: What is the only general museum in North America with a full-time curator of self-taught art?

Answer:  The High Museum in Atlanta, GA (high.org) The High is dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only general museum in North America to have a full-time curator devoted to folk and self-taught art. The nucleus of the folk art collection is the T. Marshall Hahn Collection, donated in 1996, and Judith Alexander’s gift of 130 works by Atlanta artist Nellie Mae Rowe. Other artists the High has collected in depth in this field include the Reverend Howard Finster, Bill Traylor, Thornton Dial, Ulysses Davis, Sam Doyle, William Hawkins, Mattie Lou O’Kelley, and Louis Monza. The collection of almost 800 objects also boasts superb examples by renowned artists from beyond the South, such as Henry Darger, Martín Ramírez, and Joseph Yoakum.
Mark your calendar for the greatly anticipated Bill Traylor exhibition coming to The High in February 2012:
Bill Traylor, Untitled, ca. 1939–1942.
Poster paint and pencil on cardboard. 11¾ x 7¾ inches,
High Museum of Art, Purchase with funds from Mrs. Lindsey Hopkins, Jr.,
Edith G. and Philip A. Rhodes, and the Members Guild, 1982.93

Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collection of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

February 5, 2012 – May 13, 2012

This exhibition will include approximately 63 drawings and paintings by self-taught Alabama artist Bill Traylor. Traylor began making art near the end of his life, and his works are notable for their flat, simply defined shapes and vibrant compositions in which memories and observations relating to African American life are merged. Traylor is recognized as one of the finest American artists of the 20th century.

Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery.

National Endowment for the Arts

This exhibition is supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment.

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One response to “#outsiderartfair Question: What is the only general museum in North America with a full-time curator of self-taught art?

  • Adrienne Garrett, Museum Studies Program, Harvard University X-School

    Her name is Susan Mitchell Crawley, the brilliant curator of the upcoming Bill Traylor show at the High. You need to know her name; she’s the author of several excellent books on the art of southern African American vernacular creators, the southern self-taught work made beyond the borders of what is rapidly becoming a more porous mainstream. Ms Crawley avoids the use of the term “outsider” for these artists. In conversation, she said the reason for this firm stand on the descriptor is these artists live and work very much inside a rich personal and community culture and they do create with personal intent.

    Nomenclature isn’t as highly charged an aspect surrounding untrained work as it once was (Didi Barrett—I think—coined the phrase, “term warfare,” about all this), but some distinctions are still important. True “Outsider” work comes out of a European tradition re-interpreted and brought to this country by artist Jean Dubuffet, l’art brut. Art Brut is grounded in the work of early 20th-century German and Italian psychiatrists, and in interpretations of writer/critic/art historian, John Cardinal (who actually disagrees and thinks the word ‘outsider’ is the best umbrella term for all). Ah, well. So be it.

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