Rural life (and rural artists) affected the development of American modernism, though as Stephanie Heydt, the High’s curator of American art, points out, “rural,” in the New York-centric art world, often meant anywhere not on the island of Manhattan.
Self-taught artists, from Grandma Moses to Bill Traylor, fascinated trained artists in this period, and one can see the impact of one group on the other, said Katherine Jentleson, curator of folk and self-taught art. The art “canon” began accepting outsider art, including those working in photography and other media.
“There was a great broadening of the concept of the American arts,” she said. “We are thrilled that we get to show the audience how that happened, through the objects we’ve chosen — to show what it was about self-taught artists that was so fascinating (to trained artists).”
A centerpiece of the exhibit is a mural titled "Opening Day at Talladega College," one of the six murals by Hale Woodruff that Talladega College commissioned in 1938 for its Savery Library. The High partnered with Talladega College to conserve the murals for a nationwide tour, which launched with the High's 2012 exhibition "Rising Up: Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College."
All are currently being warehoused by the High.
The exhibition also features artwork loaned from institutions across the country, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Dallas Museum of Art. Also featured are artworks from Georgia museums including the Booth Western Art Museum, the Georgia Museum of Art and Clark Atlanta University Galleries, among others.
For more information, visit high.org.