Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South
Thornton Dial, James Son Ford Thomas, Lonnie Holley, Mary T. Smith, Purvis Young, and many other Black artists in the South drew upon recycled materials as their art supplies and used yards, porches, or boarded-up storefronts as their galleries. The women of Gees Bend, Alabama, made dazzling quilts from well-worn clothing or leftover scraps of fabric. Despite racism and other forms of discrimination, all of these artists drew on deep cultural and spiritual traditions to create some of the finest art of our time.
In 2020, the National Gallery acquired 40 sculptures, assemblages, paintings, reliefs, quilts, and drawings from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, together with several related gifts. Enjoy these inventive works, including nine Gees Bend quilts, and learn the remarkable stories of their making and makers.