For Immediate Release

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Ancestry & Innovation: African American Art from the American FolkArt Museum On View at the Gibbes Museum of Art from July 31 – October 11, 2009

Contributions of Self-taught African American Artists Celebrated in Smithsonian Exhibition

(April 30, 2009 - Charleston, South Carolina) – The Gibbes Museum of Art will present the Smithsonian traveling exhibition Ancestry & Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum from July 31 – October 11, 2009. The range of artistic expressions by self-taught African American artists from the rural South and the urban North is explored in this exhibition culled from the American Folk Art Museum’s rich holdings. Ancestry & 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.

Comprising nine quilts and nearly thirty works of art in various media, Ancestry & 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.

“We’re delighted that objects from New York’s American Folk Art Museum will be featured throughout our second floor galleries in this exciting exhibition offered through the Smithsonian. The folk art tradition is a strong component of the history of art in the South. Ancestry & Innovation allows us to provide a context for this creative story,” noted Gibbes Executive Director Angela Mack.

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. “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.

Ancestry & 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. Sponsors of the exhibition at the Gibbes include the auxiliary group Gibbes, etc. and media sponsor Charleston Magazine.

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. 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.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at

Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905 in historic Charleston, S.C. The Gibbes houses one of the foremost collections of American Art from the 18th century to the present. The Gibbes is currently undergoing major renovations and will reopen in the spring of 2016. The renovated museum will properly showcase its extensive collections and will feature an admission-free ground floor, providing a place to watch artists at work in studios and stroll through a world-class garden.

135 Meeting Street | Charleston, SC | 29401