Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum

Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

The American Folk Art Museum has explored the creativity of African Americans through its exhibitions, collections, and publications almost from its inception in 1962. Since then, drawings, sculptures, paintings, and quilts by black artists have become an important aspect of the museum’s holdings, and 20th-century artists are represented through significant numbers of works.

The ongoing contribution of self-taught black artists to the kaleidoscope of American culture and visual experience is celebrated in a new exhibition organized by the American Folk Art Museum. Originally on view at the museum in 2005, the highly acclaimed Ancestry & Innovation juxtaposes complex and vibrant quilts with paintings and sculpture by an elder generation of creators, such as Sam Doyle, David Butler, Bessie Harvey, and Clementine Hunter; works by contemporary masters such as Thornton Dial Sr.; and provocative pieces by emerging artists such as Kevin Sampson and Willie LeRoy Elliott.

This exhibition was made possible by MetLife Foundation.

 

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Exhibition specifications

Contents

39 quilts, sculpture, framed paintings, and works on paper; pedestals, text panels, labels

Supplemental Poster, brochure, curriculum material, educational and promotional resources, speakers list
Participation Fee

$25,000 per 10-week booking period, plus prorated shipping

Size

3,000 sq. ft. (est.)

Crates 14
Weight 5,605 pounds
Category Art
Security High
Shipping

Prorated, SITES-designated carrier

SITES Contacts

Michelle Torres-Carmona, 202.633.3143 (Scheduling)
Fredric Williams, 202.633.3103 (Content/design)

Toured Through

2009

 

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Tour itinerary

Dates   Host Institution Status
2/2/2008 4/13/2008 Reynolda House Museum of Art, Winston-Salem, NC Booked
8/2/2008 10/12/2008 The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN Booked
2/7/2009 4/12/2009 Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL Booked
5/9/2009 7/12/2009 Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE Booked
8/1/2009 10/11/2009 Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC Booked

 

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Related publications

Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum, classroom poster.

Activities for elementary-school students in social studies and the visual arts. Try making a qulit or using found objects to create works of art.

FREE. Download now.

Ancestry and Innovation Classroom Poster

 

Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum, exhibition brochure.

Focuses on the exhibition itself and traces the history of the American Folk Art Museum's interest in African American folk art, including drawings, paintings, sculpture, and quilts.

FREE. Download now.

Ancestry and Innovation exhibition brochure cover

 

 
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Press release

Contributions of Self-taught African American Artists to American Culture
Celebrated in New Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition

Media only:    Jennifer Schommer 202.633.3121                      
Public only:   202.633.1000 or TTY 202.633.5285

The range of artistic expressions by self-taught African American artists from the rural South and the urban North is explored in a new traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Culled from the American Folk Art Museum’s rich holdings, Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum highlights complex and vibrant quilts, paintings, works on paper and sculpture by contemporary African American artists.

The exhibition, which originally debuted at the American Folk Art Museum in 2005, opens at Reynolda House Museum of Art in Winston-Salem, N.C., Feb. 2, 2008, where it will remain on view through April 13 before continuing on a five-city national tour through 2009.

Comprising nine quilts and nearly 30 works of art in various media, Ancestry and Innovation includes paintings by an elder generation of creators, such as David Butler, Sam Doyle, Bessie Harvey and Clementine Hunter; works by contemporary masters, such as Thornton Dial Sr.; and provocative pieces by emerging artists, such as Kevin Sampson and Willie LeRoy Elliot. Juxtaposed with richly patterned and graphically exciting quilts, the exhibition celebrates the ongoing contribution of black artists to the kaleidoscope of American cultural and visual experience.

“The unique presentation of vibrant quilts in conjunction with sculpture and painting enriches the viewer’s appreciation for the complexity and vitality of African American expression,” said Stacy C. Hollander, senior curator at the American Folk Art Museum. “This exhibition is an opportunity to showcase the range and depth of African American artworks in the museum’s collection,” noted Brooke Davis Anderson, director and curator of The Contemporary Center at the American Folk Art Museum.

Ancestry and Innovation was organized by the American Folk Art Museum in New York, and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition was made possible by the generous support of MetLife Foundation.

The National Endowment for the Arts provided generous support to the American Folk Art Museum through its American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius initiative.

Since its inception, the American Folk Art Museum has explored the creativity of African Americans through its exhibitions, collections and publications. Drawings, sculptures, paintings and quilts by black artists have become a vital part of the museum’s holdings, and 20th-century artists are represented through significant numbers of works.

Stacy C. Hollander, senior curator and director of exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, and Brooke Davis Anderson, director and curator of The Contemporary Center at the museum, are the curators of the exhibition.
Since its founding in 1961, the American Folk Art Museum has been one of the nation’s foremost resources for the study, collection, preservation and enjoyment of folk art. The museum is home to one of the world’s pre-eminent collections of folk art dating from the 17th century to the present, including paintings, sculpture, photography, textiles, ceramics and other decorative arts, as well as the work of contemporary self-taught artists from this country and abroad.

 
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Exhibition Specifications

Tour Itinerary

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