On View: ‘Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South’ at Philadelphia Museum of Art

On View: ‘Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South’ at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Thornton Dial Sr. (1928-2016), made symbolic mixed-media paintings and sculptural assemblage works with profound titles. “The Last Day of Martin Luther King” (1992), references the civil rights leader’s assassination, a moment of national tragedy, sadness, and mourning, and an inflection point in American race relations. “High and Wide (Carrying the Rats to the Man)” (2002) depicts a slave ship in troubled waters. “The Old Water” (2004) raises issues of equal opportunity and government accountability. All three works by Dial, who was born, lived, worked and died in Alabama, are on view in “Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South.” The exhibition features 24 works by African American artists from the southeastern United States, spanning generations, expressing themselves through variety of mediums.

Souls Grown Deep Foundation to invest $1 million in artists’ hometowns in the U.S. south

Souls Grown Deep Foundation to invest $1 million in artists’ hometowns in the U.S. south

The foundation that holds one of the largest collections of art by African American artists in the U.S. south will invest its assets in the communities where those artists lived and worked. The Souls Grown Deep Foundation is committing $1 million over three years – the bulk of its endowment – to support racial and social justice as well as jobs and community development in nine southern states. The impact investing strategy was developed in partnership with Upstart Co-Lab, a network of investors in “the creative economy,” as a way to share some of the growing value of Souls Grown Deep’s collection with the families and communities of the 160 artists who created the more than 1,000 works.

Can Arts Organizations Do a Public Good Simply by Investing Their Money Differently? One Foundation Is Trying to Find Out

Can Arts Organizations Do a Public Good Simply by Investing Their Money Differently? One Foundation Is Trying to Find Out

As arts institutions in the US and the UK come under increasing fire for their relationships with donors who have controversial business ties, one arts organization thinks activists might be missing the forest for the trees. “While there is a cry about comportment of individuals, it’s not as core to the institution as what the institution is doing with its own money,” says Maxwell Anderson, the president of Souls Grown Deep, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the work of African American artists from the South.

Souls Grown Deep Commits $1 Million to Impact Investing to Promote Racial Justice and Creative Economies

The Souls Grown Deep Community Partnership (SGDCP), the sister organization to Souls Grown Deep Foundation, announced today that it is committing $1,000,000 to impact investments as part of Upstart 2.0, a new initiative led by Upstart Co-Lab, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Impact investments are made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact along with financial return. Souls Grown Deep Community Partnership is the first cultural institution to make a 3-year commitment to work with Upstart Co-Lab and target financial capital to investment opportunities aligned with art, design, heritage, culture, and creativity. Souls Grown Deep will specifically promote racial and social justice and economic opportunity through impact investment in funds, businesses, and real estate projects within the creative economy.

Museums Get Creative to Acquire Art

Museums Get Creative to Acquire Art

In an art market that commands more than $150 million for an Amedeo Modigliani, or more than $90 million for a David Hockney—a living artist—how can even the most well-endowed museum compete?

 Quilts from the American South are now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Quilts from the American South are now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Growing up, Essie Bendolph Pettway was used to seeing the vibrant quilts her mother, Mary Lee Bendolph, sewed with the other quilters of Gee’s Bend, Ala., hanging over the cracks in their house to keep the cold winds out in the winter. “They had to do what they could to keep us warm,” said Pettway, who learned how to quilt as a child from Bendolph. “That’s how we kept warm, by quilts.” Bendolph’s quilts now hang in art museums around the country, including in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The museum recently acquired 15 quilts by artists from Gee’s Bend and neighboring towns from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, an Atlanta-based organization focused on preserving the work of contemporary African American artists in the South.

The Bold, Blessed Paintings of a Sharecropper’s Daughter

The Bold, Blessed Paintings of a Sharecropper’s Daughter

Ever since the categories of art brut and outsider art were first established decades ago, the work of women artists in a wide range of media — Aloïse Corbaz, Jeanne Tripier, Madge Gill, Anna Zemánková, Judith Scott, and more recent discoveries, such as Henriette Zéphir and Kazumi Kamae, among them—have played a central role in the public’s understanding of these related phenomena. In the United States, in addition to Scott’s strange, yarn-wrapped, mixed-media sculptures, the work of such female outsiders as Lee Godie, Janet Sobel, and Sister Gertrude Morgan has become prized by collectors; in recent decades, in the Deep South, the Atlanta-based Souls Grown Deep Foundation has called attention to the creations of other self-taught women artists, especially those of African descent.

Souls Grown Deep to Formalize and Expand Social & Economic Development Initiatives

At its Annual Meeting in Philadelphia yesterday, the Board of Trustees of Souls Grown Deep affirmed the incorporation of a new entity, the Souls Grown Deep Community Partnership, which includes the existing Souls Grown Deep Foundation, to continue its work dedicated to documenting, preserving, and promoting the contributions of African American artists from the South, and the new Community Partnership as a parallel organization to formalize and expand its initiatives to improve socio-economic conditions in the communities that were and are home to the 160 artists represented in the Foundation’s collection.

Lola C. West Elected to Souls Grown Deep Board of Directors

Lola C. West, Founder and Managing Director at Westfuller Advisors, joined the Board of Directors for Souls Grown Deep as of June 5, 2019. Before founding Westfuller Advisors, West served as a wealth advisor with Merrill Lynch for almost a decade. She also previously served as a senior partner of LWF Wealth Management. An active philanthropist, West is a charter member of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art and a founding member of the Council for African American Art at the Brooklyn Museum. She also serves on the board of the Hetrick-Martin Institute and the New York Women’s Foundation. West received a B.A. in Psychology from Brooklyn College and a Master’s in Urban Planning from Hunter College and holds a Certified Financial Management designation; Series 7/66; and Life, Health, and Accident Insurance license. She lives on the Upper East Side of New York City. 

Philadelphia Museum Celebrates Souls Grown Deep Acquisitions with Two Exhibitions

Philadelphia Museum Celebrates Souls Grown Deep Acquisitions with Two Exhibitions

The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South, an exhibition including paintings, sculptures, and quilts that celebrates the recent acquisition of 24 works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Among them are outstanding examples of large-scale sculptures and reliefs by Thornton Dial, assemblages by Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Hawkins Bolden, and Bessie Harvey, and an impressive selection of multi-colored quilts made by several generations of women from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and the nearby towns of Rehoboth and Alberta. Many of these pieces were composed of found and salvaged materials and are deeply rooted in personal history of their makers.