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