The Toledo Museum of Art will feature 10 newly acquired works in the free exhibition, Trip to the Mountaintop: Recent Acquisitions from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from April 4 to July 5, 2020, in the New Media Gallery. The Souls Grown Deep Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to documenting, preserving and promoting the work of African American artists from the South and their cultural traditions.
“TMA is deeply honored to announce that it has acquired these artworks, which range in size from the monumental to the intimately scaled, and highlight the rich range of visual traditions and media that has grown out of African American artistic practice in the South,” said Dr. Halona Norton-Westbrook, director of curatorial affairs. “These extraordinary works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation allow TMA to broaden and enrich the collection.”
This landmark acquisition includes paintings, sculpture and mixed media works by Thornton Dial, Thornton Dial, Jr., Richard Dial, and Leroy Alman, in addition to a selection of quilts by several generations of women from Gees Bend, Alabama, including three members of the Pettway family, as well as works by Louisiana Bendolph and Elizabeth Kennedy.
These works will be featured in an inaugural exhibition curated by Dr. Lauren Applebaum, Brian P. Kennedy Leadership Fellow, that will draw attention to the deep significance of their addition to the Museum’s collection.
In 2014, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation began a multi-year program to transfer works to the permanent collections of leading American and international art museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and more.
“The ultimate goal of our collection transfer program is to enrichen and enliven the art historical canon,” said Dr. Maxwell L. Anderson, president of Souls Grown Deep. “By embedding works by artists of the African American South in the collections of preeminent institutions such as Toledo Museum of Art, we expand the opportunity to see these works and advance scholarship through related exhibitions, educational programs, and publications. We’re thrilled that the works will go on view in Toledo this spring in Trip to the Mountaintop.”
“The mission of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation aligns perfectly with TMA’s initiative to broaden and diversify its collection and exhibition programs to include works by artists whose cultural perspectives and traditions have historically been underrepresented in museum institutions,” said Applebaum. “These works will help us tell a richer and more complex story of American art by including the voices of African American artists from the Southern United States, who cultivated their artistic practices outside the mainstream art academy. Their work explores ever-present issues of violence, oppression, and racial inequality while revealing an artmaking tradition based upon the creative reinvention of everyday objects.”
The Foundation’s holdings include over 1,000 works of art by more than 160 artists, two-thirds of whom are women. The roots of these works can be traced back to the post-Civil War era when a new and more public language of quilts and yard arts arose. This tradition also included music, dance, oral literature, informal theater, and culinary arts. The represented artists communicate through their work the rich, symbolic world of the black rural South through highly charged works that address a wide range of revelatory social and political subjects.
Trip to the Mountaintop: Recent Acquisitions from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation is sponsored by 2020 Exhibition Program Sponsor ProMedica with additional support from the Ohio Arts Council.