“My whole life has been dreams,” Minnie Evans once commented about the inspiration for her art. From Her Innermost Self celebrates the vivid visual expressions of Evans and other self-taught, southern, twentieth-century female artists, many of whom today are represented in important museum collections.
Depicting themes ranging from everyday life to racial and spiritual incidents, the women used a variety of approaches to capture siblings frolicking with one another, a floral still life, and adults marching in a jazz funeral. They hand-stitched fabric scraps into patterns with religious motifs, and sculpted clay into human figures. Their carved wood animals, embroidered biblical scenes, and painted civil rightsera moments reveal acute insights that elicit both empathy and indignation, along with puzzlement and joy.
This art is profoundly heartfelt and accessible. Any viewer can connect to some aspect of it, whether through the shared familiarity of a card game or barnyard rooster, or more ineffably, one’s fears or revelations expressed in a dream. From Her Innermost Self gives us space to consider what the “southern experience” might mean and what the female artists featured sought to explore and share.
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