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“Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South” Continues at the National Gallery of Art through March 26

On view through March 26 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC is “Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South.” Featuring dozens of works in a range of styles and repurposed media by Southern Black artists — whose lives were rife with racism and poverty — the exhibition is a testament to their creative spirit and sheer inventiveness.

Conceived by the late Memphis, Tennessee native Joe Light, the image featured above, “Bird Trainer,” was fashioned in 1987 with oil-based enamel and spray paints on found wood paneling. Several more images I captured while visiting the exhibition last month follow:

The late Alabama-born quilter Sue Willie Seltzer, “Columns of Blocks,” 2003, Cotton

The late Georgia native Nellie Mae Rowe, “Judith Wearing A Party Dress,” 1978, marker, ballpoint pen, and graphite on paper

The late Miami native Purvis Young, “Family,” c. 1980, Paint on cardboard

The late Alabama native Thornton Dial, “Clothes Factory,” 1995, Mattress frame, rope, carpet, fabric, plastic, enamel, spray paint, industrial sealing compound on canvas mounted on wood

The late Alabama native Mose Tolliver, “Self-Portrait of Me,” Undated, House paint on wood panel

Located in the National Gallery of Art’s East Building, “Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South” can be viewed daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.

Photos of artworks: Lois Stavsky