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Exhibition

Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers

17 Mar-18 Jun 2023

Overview

Black Artists from the American South. Discover the Black artists from the Southeastern United States who created some of the most spectacular and ingenious works of the last century.

For generations, Black artists from the American South have forged a unique art tradition. Working in near isolation from established practices, they have created masterpieces that articulate America’s painful past – the inhuman practice of enslavement, the cruel segregationist policies of the Jim Crow era, and institutionalised racism.

Drawing its title from the work of Langston Hughes, Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers brings together sculpture, paintings, reliefs, drawings, and quilts, most of which will be seen in the UK and Europe for the first time. It will also feature the celebrated quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama and the neighbouring communities of Rehoboth and Alberta.

Made from the materials available locally – like clay, driftwood, roots, soil, recycled and cast-off objects – the 70 works range from the mid 20th century to today. Many respond to issues that are global in nature: from economic inequality, oppression and social marginalisation, to sexuality, the influence of place and ancestral memory.

Artists include Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Hawkins Bolden, Bessie Harvey, Charles Williams, Mary T. Smith, Purvis Young, Mose Tolliver, Nellie Mae Rowe, Mary Lee Bendolph, Marlene Bennett Jones, Martha Jane Pettway, Loretta Pettway, and Henry and Georgia Speller.

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