ART Gallery

Drawings by Black Artists
from the American South

“It seem like some people believe that, just because I ain’t got no education, say I must be too ignorant for art,” Dial was quoted in one publication. “I believe I have proved that my art is about ideas, and about life, and the experience of the world. . . . I ain’t never been much good at talking about stuff. I always just done the stuff I had a mind to do. My art do my talking.” – Thorton Dial

Cascone, S. (2016, January 26). Outsider Artist Thornton Dial Dead at 87. Artnet News.

About : Exhibition

The Morgan Presents an Exhibition of Drawings
by Black Artists from the Southern United States

Another Tradition: Drawings by Black Artists from the American South

In the last three decades, exhibitions and publications have established the rightful place of figures such as Thornton Dial (1928–2016) and the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, in the canon of twentieth-century American art. The focus has often been on the impressive works of assemblage— whether of found objects or fabric—that have emerged from the Southern United States. Artists only one or two gener[1]ations removed from slavery, and subjected to the abuses of Jim Crow, developed ingenious formal techniques using found materials and skills learned outside the classroom and studio. Many, like Dial, Nellie Mae Rowe (1900–1982), and Lonnie Holley (b. 1950), exhibited their creations at their homes in elaborate “yard shows,” drawing the attention of passersby and art-world figures alike.

Artists represented in the acquisition include Thornton Dial, Nellie Mae Rowe, Henry Speller, Luster Willis, and Purvis Young. Another Tradition also incorporates institutional and private loans by Rowe, Lonnie Holley, Sister Gertrude Morgan, and Bill Traylor.

The focus of this exhibition is the medium of drawing. At its core is a group of eleven works acquired by the Morgan in 2018 from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, an organ[1]ization dedicated to supporting Black Southern artists and their communities. Like assemblage, drawing is an art of “making do.” Its accessibility and directness have always appealed to both artists and their audiences. While some works in the gallery were produced on traditional artist’s papers, others incorporate the unique qualities of found supports. The range of mediums includes watercolor, ballpoint pen, crayon, and even glitter. But the impact of these works ultimately transcends their innovative means. Although each of the eight artists represented speaks with a distinctive voice, the intimate space of the gallery illuminates formal and thematic connections that arise from their shared geographies and experiences. Another Tradition:

Drawings by Black Artists from the American South is made possible by Katharine J. Rayner.


Another Tradition: Drawings by Black Artists from the American South
September 24, 2021 through January 16, 2022
The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street
New York, NY 10016

ART | library deco is an approved collaborative and subscribed media partner of The Morgan Library & Museum, with permissions to exhibit art works released to cultural institutions.