News & Events

April 14, 2020

Down in the north-central section of Wilcox County, Alabama, sits a little parcel of land. Five miles wide, seven miles long, and surrounded by the Alabama River on three sides, this area is known as Gee’s Bend, population 275. An hour’s drive from the county seat of Camden, which is the closest source of food and medical services, the area is geographically cut off from the world. Mostly left to themselves for nearly 100 years, this close-knit historically all-black community’s folkways and traditions survived well into the twentieth century and stand as a symbol of their resourcefulness during a time of great duress. Art admirers from all over the world come to this patch of fertile soil in Alabama’s Black Belt to get a glimpse of the artistic legacy of four generations of Southern quilters.

April 13, 2020

From creating visuals to promote public health tips, to producing posters that celebrate hospital workers, artists of every ilk are using their skills to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. Even down in Gee’s Bend—the tiny Alabama hamlet formally known as Boykin that has nurtured three generations of quiltmakers—artists are lending a hand, using their skills to make masks for members of their community. The project started when two of the community’s longtime quilters, Mary Margaret Pettway and Mary McCarthy, saw an article about medical professionals in a neighboring city dealing with a face mask shortage. Included in the story was a template for how to make masks at home—which is exactly what the quilters did.

March 28, 2020

“Visionary” is a term that has become somewhat overused in the outsider art field — and over on the contemporary-art side of the broader art market, too. In some ways, “visionary,” which is properly used to describe distinct or novel worldviews, as well as the sometimes bizarre imaginings of both self-taught and academically trained artists, has become, thanks to hyperbole-spewing publicists and dealers, as meaningless as “amazing,” “epic,” or “awesome” — a mere banality assigned to everything from bad pop songs to hamburgers. The current exhibition The Life and Death of Charles Williams, however, illuminates an unusual and varied body of work that is nothing if not genuinely, emblematically visionary.