This exhibition addresses the aesthetic influences of both folk art and Modern art on African American artists in the 20th century. These objects, chosen from the Mississippi Museum of Art’s permanent collection, include a variety of media yet are centralized around the notion of identity and self-representation.
Artists like Gwendolyn Magee, Elizabeth Catlett, and Betye Saar took an activist approach in their art by using a vernacular voice to send their strong messages. Clementine Hunter, Mose Tolliver, and Sulton Rogers were self-taught artists whose styles are representative of the traditional folk art and whose roots are present in the work of Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence. Finally, others, like Mark Gail and Roland Freeman, eschewed the folk aesthetic altogether through their choice of photography, a medium elevated to the fine arts due to its aesthetic capabilities. Though these works span almost eighty years, each artist’s aesthetic voice takes control of the figural representation of African Americans that for too long was overlooked and under-represented. This exhibition is free to the public.
Exhibition overview from museum website