Vernacular Art

Southern Vernacular Art Collection

The majority of artwork in the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum’s collection is Southern Vernacular Art. The artists included in this collection are exemplars of Vernacular Art; their idiosyncratic work is created using found materials, of a style purely their own, and often incorporates symbols from the artists’ immediate regional American cultures and more distant African cultural roots. Their transformative contribution to the history of contemporary art spurred the Metropolitan Museum of Art to acquire 80 works by many of the same artists in 2014. Former Met Director Thomas P. Campbell announced that this acquisition, “…embodies the profoundly deep and textured expression of the African American experience during a complex time in this country’s history and a landmark moment in the evolution of the Met.” This work is most often created from found materials like plywood, house paint, discarded metal, and cardboard, making housing the works in a stable environment all the more important. A portion of the Southern Vernacular Art Collection travels to other museums, educating the public about these often overlooked artists.

Image: Hobo’s Swollen Left Arm, Light, Joe Louis n.d., 96″ x 48″ x 0″, paint, plywood, 2017.3.9, Gift of Lou and Calynne Hill

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