My North Carolina Journey: Part 1 Weatherspoon Art Museum / by Bethany Handfield

My journey to North Carolina was not just a journey of personal self discovery, but also one of artistic adventure. Meeting new artists and seeing as much art as possible.

North Carolina is green, lush, and very humid. The people were all so sweet and generous. I really can't wait to go back again.

It was good fortune that there was a major exhibition of "outsider" art at the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro: Inside the Outside: Five Self-Taught Artists from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation. This style of art just pulls at my soul. It is so open and without pretension or encumbered with layers of dogma and theory. It feels so pure and raw. 

From the Weatherspoon website:

"The enigmatic—and often humorous and dramatic—works in this exhibition survey the production of five gifted artists: James Castle, Thornton Dial, Nellie Mae Rowe, Bill Traylor, and Willie Young. Whether called “outsider,” “visionary,” or more accurately, “self-taught” art, the genre remains one of the most intriguing in modern and contemporary art. Each artist has examined an idiosyncratic reality to create works full of imaginative and visual power, works that stand beside the canon of the mainstream art world.

Three of the artists of African-American heritage grew up in the Deep South: Thornton Dial on a tenant farm in Alabama, Nellie Mae Rowe on a farm in rural Georgia, and Bill Traylor, who only began to draw and paint at age 84, born a slave in Alabama. Willie Young, also African-American, had a bit of training in a scholarship art class at the Dallas Museum of Art, but found his own voice later while shining shoes for a living. James Castle was born deaf and spent his entire life at his rural family home in Idaho."

The artists often worked with found materials and what was on hand - cereal boxes, soot/charcoal, house paint, children's school supplies - art by any means.

This Weatherspoon staff were very friendly and I had a lively discussion about the exhibition with several of them. Plus mom & I got a picture with "Spoony" on our way out.

http://weatherspoon.uncg.edu/exhibitions/show/?title=inside-the-outside-five-self-taught-artists-from-the-william-louis-dreyfus-foundation

If you are curious about my encaustic adventures in North Carolina you can read them over on the Exploring Encaustic blog.

My North Carolina Encaustic Adventure: Part 1 Cathy Nichols

My North Carolina Encaustic Adventure: Part 2 310 Art