The Georgia Museum of Art is featuring works by self-taught artists from its permanent collection until July 22. This display from the collection coincides with—and plays off—the museum’s exhibition of photographs by John Baeder in the adjacent galleries. Sections of that exhibition focus on street signs as folk art and American vernacular architecture.
Works by self-taught artists have been a recent area of focus for the museum, and the display features acquisitions since 2006. Organized by Paul Manoguerra, chief curator and curator of American art at GMOA, Southern Folk Art from the Permanent Collection includes art by Mose Tolliver, Thornton Dial Sr., R.A. Miller, Purvis Young, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mary T. Smith, Minnie Adkins and Cheever Meaders, among many others.
“The initiative to collect works by self-taught artists, especially from the South, continues to be important to the Georgia Museum of Art,” said Manoguerra. “This display celebrates these artists, our donors and this ongoing collecting enterprise.”
The exhibition includes Archie Byron’s sculpture Homeless Man, made of sawdust formed into a moldable paste, then painted with house paint. Byron (1928–2005) was a boyhood friend of Martin Luther King Jr.
Another highlight is Harold Rittenberry’s sculpture Ode to Joy, a large work in the welded metal the Athens-based artist uses as his medium. It is on display at the museum for the first time since becoming part of the collection in 2009.
Southern Folk Art from the Permanent Collection also includes works given by museum board of advisors chair Carl Mullis and his wife, Marian, and by Ron and June Shelp, of New York, who have donated many works by self-taught artists to the museum’s collection.