ART Talk: Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor Symposium

From the Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and F Streets, NW):

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor is the first major retrospective ever organized for an artist born into slavery, and the most comprehensive look at Bill Traylor’s work to date.


Fair Use: Untitled (Blue Man on Red Object) Bill Traylor | Date: c.1939 | Style: Art Brut Genre: figurative | Media: pencil, cardboard

Bill Traylor (ca. 1853–1949) is regarded today as one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century. A black man born into slavery in Alabama, he was an eyewitness to history: the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, the Great Migration, and the steady rise of African American urban culture in the South. Traylor would not live to see the civil rights movement, but he was among those who laid its foundation. Starting around 1939—by then in his late eighties and living on the streets of Montgomery—Traylor made the radical steps of taking up pencil and paintbrush and attesting to his existence and point of view. The paintings and drawings he made are visually striking and politically assertive; they include simple yet powerful distillations of tales and memories as well as spare, vibrantly colored abstractions. When Traylor died in 1949, he left behind more than one thousand works of art.

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor Symposium: 

A distinguished group of scholars provide new insights and information about how one man’s visual record of African American life gives larger meaning to the story of the nation.

The program is free and open to the public.

Start time
February 22, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Radcliffe Bailey, artist
William Ferris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Randall Seth Morris, independent curator, writer, and co-owner of Cavin-Morris Gallery
Diana Baird N’Diaye, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Richard J. Powell, Duke University
Leslie Umberger, exhibition curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum

This program is the inaugural symposium in the Margaret Z. Robson Symposium Series. Support for the series is provided by Douglas O. Robson.

Symposium Website:

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