The New Orleans Museum of Art is the latest national institution to acquire works from Atlanta’s Souls Grown Deep Foundation. The partial gift/acquisition comprises ten works, a relatively small number compared to those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2014, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta earlier this year.
The acquisition includes two works by Thornton Dial, pieces by Ronald Lockett, Joe Minter, and Mary Proctor, and five Gee’s Bend quilts.
The foundation’s gift/purchase program was designed to strengthen the representation of African American artists from the Southern United States in the collections of leading museums across the country.
“This acquisition builds upon the museum’s enduring commitment to championing emerging and underrepresented voices in American art, and marks the second time NOMA has had the opportunity to collaborate with the Souls Grown Deep Foundation,” said Susan Taylor, director of the New Orleans Museum of Art.
The Foundation previously gifted a piece by Dial commemorating Hurricane Katrina to the museum, and in 2015 a group of local collectors purchased a Lonnie Holley from the foundation for NOMA’s collection.
“The mission of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation is to collaborate with museums across the country, like the New Orleans Museum of Art, to incorporate work by these important artists into their collections and reshape the narrative of contemporary American art,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, president of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.
NOMA has a long history of exhibiting and acquiring work by self-taught artists of the American South. Its permanent collection includes 300 works by such artists as Thornton Dial, David Butler, Sam Doyle, Clementine Hunter and Purvis Young. Hunter’s first major museum show took place at NOMA in 1955. In 1973, NOMA organized “Louisiana Folk: Paintings by Clementine Hunter, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Bruce Brice and Marion Souchon,” which appeared at the Museum of American Folk Art in New York. An important early retrospective for Sister Gertrude Morgan was held there in 1988. And the 1993 show “Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present” went on a national tour and won several national awards and resulting in a catalogue that remains a benchmark in the field.