b. 1926

Theodore Hill

Atlanta, Georgia
Street Blues
William Arnett

Theodore Hill worked for many years as a custodian for the City of Atlanta's Department of Sanitation, and spent his off-hours as a caddy at the golf course of a local country club. A man of strong religious convictions, Hill has always decorated his living quarters with his own icon-like assemblages. These works, usually focusing on the life of Christ, combine painted cardboard with a variety of materials ranging from rocks, broken glass and mirror, marbles, fabric scraps, and discarded bits of metal and wood, to pecans and peanuts.

Hill's work came to the attention of the public in 1986, when he submitted it to a juried exhibition of art by Atlanta city employees (he finished third in the "amateur" category). Hill divides his creative efforts between art and music and frequently performs his own gospel and blues compositions at church and public gatherings.

The African American culture of the South has produced many of the twentieth century’s most innovative art forms. Widely appreciated for its music—from the blues and jazz, to gospel, soul, rock ‘n’ roll—the region has also played host to a less visible but equally important visual art tradition.

Minneapolis Institute of Art
December 12, 2020 to December 5, 2021

In the Presence of Our Ancestors: Southern Perspectives in African American Art” brings together methods of visual storytelling and ancestral memory through the individual practices of artists from the “Black Belt” region of the American South—a term that refers to the region’s black soil, as well as the le