More than Folk:
Celebrating self-taught artists
On View September 13, 2019 - August 9, 2020
Folk, self-taught, primitive, outsider. These terms are used to describe artists without formal training or those who operate outside of the established art world. The work of ten such artists of the American South will be featured in the Hunter Museum’s upcoming Collection Focus exhibition More Than Folk: Celebrating Self-Taught Artists. The exhibit, which will open on Friday, September 13, will bring together works from the museum’s permanent collection to celebrate the impact of these often overlooked artists.
Folk art, originally considered to be “naïve,” was ignored by major collectors and museums until the late 20th century. More Than Folk will feature art from the mid to late 20th century created by artists who came to art late in life as a means of self-expression and of employment. The self-taught artists in the exhibit demonstrate a remarkable ability to step beyond difficult circumstances to create artwork relevant to us all.
Not only did these artists not go to school for art, most did not complete much traditional schooling. Many grew up in poverty and had little access to cultural empowerment or educational advancement. Yet, using materials ranging from tree stumps and mud to denim and paint, these artists created emotionally moving works that draw us into their inner lives and daily experiences. The artworks selected from the Hunter’s collection are intensely expressive and at times spiritual. More Than Folk celebrates the passion, intuition, and creativity that drove these self-taught artists to paint and sculpt.
More Than Folk will encourage guests to make connections with other areas of the museum. Visitors to the contemporary galleries will notice similarities in the expressive use of color and unconventional art materials in both the works of self-taught artists and their professionally trained contemporaries. Like folk artists, many of the early American artists represented in the Hunter Mansion also lacked a formal artistic education and developed a reputation as “naïve” by the established art world. More Than Folk engages with the tradition of American art by highlighting ten self-taught artists whose powerful work speaks to their individual life experiences and the meaning art has for each one of us.
IMAGE: Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900 – 1980), Teaching on the Highway