People

Souls Grown Deep Staff

Maxwell L. Anderson

President

Laura Bickford

William S. Arnett Curator

Scott Browning

Collection Manager

Mary McCarthy

Senior Research Associate

Richard McCoy

Conservation Associate

Board of Trustees

Maxwell L. Anderson

Max Anderson has devoted his career to advancing the mission of non-profit cultural institutions, while creating best practices to insure their development and sustainability. He has long sought to address challenges facing the cultural sector, from community engagement to programmatic relevance, transparent business practices, cultural property ownership disputes, operational efficiency, and the impact of digital platforms on communications. Served as a museum director for almost thirty years in Atlanta, Toronto, New York City, Indianapolis, and Dallas.

Paul Arnett

Co-editor and contributor to numerous books, including Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art, vols.I & II, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt, Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts, and Thornton Dial in the 21st Century. He has contributed to many catalogues and organized several exhibitions, including "Thornton Dial: Strategy of the World,” and spent two decades helping assemble the vernacular art collection that became the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

Harry Arnett

Chairman of the Board

Former President and Publisher of Tinwood Media where he oversaw production of numerous publications and media projects including The Quilts of Gee’s Bend and Thornton Dial in the 21st Century. He is presently Senior Vice President of Marketing at Callaway Golf.

Richard Dial

Sculptor whose work is in a number of private and public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and is featured prominently in Souls Grown Deep vols. I & II.  He works in Bessemer, Alabama where he continues the art-making tradition of his family which includes his father Thornton Dial.

Jane Fonda

Award-winning actress, author, and political activist. She has won two Academy Awards, an Emmy Award and seven Golden Globe Awards (including 3 special awards) among many other accolades. Her books include Prime Time: Creating a Great Third ACT and My Life So Far. In 2000 she partnered with William Arnett to form Tinwood Books, publisher of seminal volumes on African American Art of the South including Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art and The Quilts of Gee's Bend.

Bernard L. Herman

George B. Tindall Distinguished Professor of American Studies and Folklore, and Chair, Department of American Studies, at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Editor of Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper and author of many books including the forthcoming Quilt Spaces: Conversation and the Art of the Quilt in Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

Linley Jones

Linley Jones is one of Atlanta’s most distinguished and highly regarded trial lawyers. She was recently elected President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and is a member of the Atlanta Trial Lawyers Society, Atlanta Bar Association, Lawyers Club of Atlanta, and the American Association for Justice.

Valerie Cassel Oliver

Valerie Cassel Oliver is the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She has served as the Senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Director of the Visiting Artists Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Program Specialist for the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2011, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta presented Cassel Oliver with the David C. Driskell Prize, named for the renowned African-American artist and art scholar.

Mary Margaret Pettway

Born and raised in Gee’s Bend (Boykin), Alabama, Mary Margaret Pettway is a third-generation quilter, and daughter of Lucy T. Pettway. She is a member of the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective, founded in 2003 to promote and market quilts from the community of Gee’s Bend. She has taught quilting workshops throughout the southeast, and is a regular instructor at Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center in Camden, Alabama.

Michael Sellman

Associate editor of Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art, vol. II, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, and Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts, Michael Sellman is co-Chief Executive Officer of Calatrava Grace Corporation, a real estate advisory, co-development, and investment company. He worked previously at Morgan Stanley in New York and London.

James Sellman

President of the Folk Art Society of America, regular contributor to Folk Art Messenger, collector and philanthropist. Since 1979 he has served on the clinical faculty at the Medical College of Virginia; in 2001 he was honored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness with The Exemplary Psychiatrist Award and identified as one of the 35 top psychiatrists in the United States.

Jacquelyn Serwer

Chief Curator of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.. Her research specialties include American art and African American art, 19th century to the present, and museum studies. Previously she served for six years as chief curator of the Corcoran Gallery of Art where she coordinated all museum activities.

Franklin Sirmans

Franklin Sirmans is the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Prior to taking his position at PAMM, Sirmans was Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. He has mounted exhibitions as an independent curator at museums in Europe, Asia and the U.S., including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Comune di Milano in Italy and the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich.

E.T. Williams

Board Chair Emeritus of the Romare Bearden Foundation and former Chair of the Schomburg Society of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He has served on the boards of the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy, and the Central Park Conservancy.

Trustee Emeritus

William S. Arnett

Art Historian, documentarian, author and editor of numerous books, including Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art, vols.I & II, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt, Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts, and Thornton Dial in the 21st Century. He has built important collections of African, Asian, and African-American art, among others, and has authored and curated many catalogues and exhibitions on subjects ranging from ancient ceramics to twentieth-century Mayan textiles.