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'Folktopia: American Self-Taught Art' celebrates contemporary folk and outsider art at the Wiregrass Museum of Art

Matt Boster

Viewed: 811

Posted by: Matt Boster
Date: Oct 05 2017 8:32 AM

DOTHAN, Alabama - October 4, 2017- The Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA) announces the opening of "Folktopia: American Self-Taught Art" on October 19 at Art After Hours. The exhibition explores the personal expressions of twenty self-taught artists from around the Southeast, including work by Mose Tolliver, Howard Finster, Woodie Long, Jimmie Lee Sudduth, and B.F. Perkins, among many others. "Folktopia" is guest curated by Marcia Weber, owner of Marcia Weber Art Objects, a gallery in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to self-taught art, including contemporary folk art and outsider art.

Although the artists represented in the exhibition come from different places and backgrounds, they all share a common element: none of them have formal art training, and all were inspired to create their art out of the pure need to make something in order to document and share their personal stories and everyday lives with others.

Marcia Weber's chance meeting with artist Jimmie Lee Sudduth at an arts festival in the 1970s gave her an introduction to the world of self-taught art. Driven by a deep admiration of the artwork and the artists who created it, she not only began to collect pieces of their work, she also became a close friend and advocate for many of them. Her personal collection eventually led her to open the gallery in Montgomery.

"Through many visits, a number of self-taught artists became my friends and our home became filled with their art," said Weber. "When all of the space at home was filed with art, a natural progression was to have a gallery devoted to this work of these amazing, rare artists that I knew. They all needed help with the business of marketing their art and there was a small but growing collector base desiring it." 

Weber's close relationship with the artists instilled in her the commitment to document their work and to ensure each of them received the recognition they were due. As guest curator of "Folktopia," she brings together more than 100 pieces of art from her gallery and work from private collectors rarely available for public view. 

"These artists' exuberance for life spilled out into their art. You could feel it there and I began to search for more artists like these to collect -- to preserve this art and to document the stories surrounding it," said Weber. "They were driven to create from whatever they had, often very little. ... This art flows freely from the artists, much like water from a spring. It is rare and some has been destroyed through the years because it was misunderstood and not recognized as an art form to be preserved."

The Wiregrass Museum of Art is honored to work with Marcia Weber to bring this significant collection of artwork to Dothan. "Folktopia: American Self-Taught Art" will open to the public on the evening of Thursday, October 19, at WMA's Art After Hours, an event held quarterly to mark new exhibition openings. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free for museum members and $5 for the general public. An exhibition catalog published by the Wiregrass Museum of Art will be available for purchase at the opening and throughout the run of the show.

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