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Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South

Upcoming Exhibition

September 18, 2022 – March 26, 2023
East Building, Upper Level, West Bridge

For decades Thornton Dial, James “Son Ford” Thomas, Lonnie Holley, Mary T. Smith, Purvis Young, and many other Black artists in the South worked with little recognition, often using recycled materials as their art supplies and yards, porches, or boarded-up storefronts as their galleries. The women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, made dazzling quilts from well-worn clothing or leftover scraps of fabric. Despite racism and other forms of discrimination, all of these artists drew on deep cultural and spiritual traditions to create some of the finest art of our time.

In 2020, the National Gallery acquired 40 sculptures, assemblages, paintings, reliefs, quilts, and drawings from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, and several related gifts have recently entered the collection as well. Enjoy these inventive works, including nine Gee’s Bend quilts, and learn the remarkable stories of their making and makers.

Selected Works

Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington

The exhibition is curated by Harry Cooper, senior curator and head, department of modern art, National Gallery of Art.

Admission is always free and passes are not required

Banner detail: Missouri Pettway, "Path through the Woods" (Quiltmaker's Name), 1971, polyester knit, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund and Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, 2020.28.16