The Delaware Art Museum presents Ancestry & Innovation: African American Folk Art from the American Folk Art Museum, featuring a dazzling array of quilts, paintings, and sculptures, on view May 9, 2009 – July 12, 2009.
This wide-ranging exhibition explores the artistic expressions of self-taught African American artists from the rural South and the urban North. Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum was organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition was made possible by MetLife Foundation.
Comprising 39 works of art in various media, Ancestry and Innovation spans three generations of creators. The elder artists, working in the early and mid-20th century, include Clementine Hunter, who—in her lifetime of over a hundred years—transformed the hardships of her Louisiana community into small, lively paintings. Also in this group is Sam Doyle, a Gullah artist of St. Helena, South Carolina, whose figures, many made with house paint, were often displayed in his yard. Artists now in their maturity include father and son Thornton Dial, Sr. and Thornton Dial, Jr. Their highly expressionistic works frequently refer to social conditions and relationships. Among the youngest generation’s artists is Kevin Sampson, whose urban environment in Newark, New Jersey, informs his sculptures, which often honor members of his own community who have died. “I rescue other people’s memories left in the objects they leave behind,” he says of these almost totemic works.
Several of the exhibition’s nine quilters produced their work in the 20th century, including Leola Pettway of Gee’s Bend, while Mozell Benson is working today. Their quilts combine colors and patterns in both traditional and unexpected ways, exemplifying how the artists of Ancestry and Innovation celebrate the ongoing contribution of African American artists to the kaleidoscope of American cultural and visual experience.
* Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Dr. Mary F. Holahan, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Delaware Art Museum and in-house curator for the Ancestry and Innovation exhibition, will lead a tour and answer questions. Please RSVP to Dennis Lawson by Thursday, April 30.
* Public Lecture: “Art, Identity, and Empowerment: African American Self-Taught Artists and Their Work”
Saturday, May 9 | 1:00 p.m. | Free with Museum admission
Brooke Davis Anderson, the co-curator of Ancestry and Innovation: African American Folk Art from the American Folk Art Museum and the Director and Curator of The Contemporary Center of the American Folk Art Museum, will discuss the artists in Ancestry and Innovation and explore how artmaking empowered many African American artists without formal training.
* Ancestry and Innovation Celebration
Sunday, June 14, 2009│noon – 3:00p.m.│FREE | All ages
Learn what folk art is all about with art activities, quilt demonstrations, and storytelling performances that celebrate the Ancestry and Innovation exhibition. Local quilters, whose work is displayed at Blue Ball Barn, will show how quilts are made, and special guest Linda Goss will captivate family audiences with her interactive and inspiring stories.
Organizer and Sponsors
Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum was organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition was made possible by MetLife Foundation.
In Delaware, this exhibition is made possible, in part, by grants from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by The Gilliam Foundation.
Delaware Art Museum