Faith and Fantasy in Outsider Art from the Permanent Collection
When: February 13 - April 26, 2009
About the Show
This exhibition will include a selection of approximately 30 paintings, drawings, and sculptures from a gift of more than 100 works given to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center by the New York collector Pat Parsons (Vassar College class of 1951). The exhibition will address common themes often found in work by “outsider” or self-taught artists including biblical and religious topics, fictional narratives developed from the artists’ imaginations and rich fantasies, as well as allegorical use of the human figure. The artists whose work is featured in the exhibition, like many self-taught artists, began their art practice outside of the mainstream venues of contemporary art, and several of them have moved steadily into a broader spectrum of acceptance and appreciation. Lacking the formal artistic training of the academy and often socially and financially disenfranchised, these artists and their work are frequently treated as a sociological phenomena – held at arms length and labeled as “other.” At the same time, self-taught artists often demonstrate an all-consuming devotion to art-making and a tendency to create extremely personal and imaginative narratives, resulting in artwork that is highly individualized, idiosyncratic, and free from outside influence. The Art Center is committed to bringing this work to our audience and placing it in the context of Art History by displaying it in thematic exhibitions that highlight the strongest and most relevant work in the collection. The artists selected for the exhibition all have been active within the last twenty years and they come from a range of geographic, economic, and cultural backgrounds. The exhibition includes work by Thorton Dial, Howard Finster, Dwight MacIntosh, John McKenzie, Donald Mitchell, Mose Tolliver, and Inez Walker along with work by several lesser-known artists.