Self-taught artists in spotlight at new Reece-Museum exhibition

Contributed To The Press • Jul 27, 2018 at 10:31 AM

The Reece Museum and Mary B. Martin School of the Arts in cooperation with Grey Carter-Objects of Art present “Self-taught Art By Any of Its Names,” an exhibition celebrating the work of over 20 self-taught artists. The exhibition, curated by Grey Carter, will be on display from July 26 to Sept. 27 with receptions on opening and closing evenings.

Self-taught Art By Any of Its Names explores the work of artists who have not attended art school, but who have nevertheless created compelling art. As the exhibition title suggests, the work of these artists commonly acquires labels such as outsider, folk, visionary, primitive or naïve art. For these artists it is their background, environment or even personal challenges that are typically given more attention than the artwork itself.

Carter poses the questions, “Should not their work be acknowledged and accepted for what it is?” and “Why shouldn’t these artists’ efforts be recognized without the implied caveats of additional labels or unique storyline?”

Categorizing artists by their level of training should be a thing of the past, Carter says. “Why do we need to categorize artists or separate them out?” he asks. “Many of us who have been admiring and collecting this work have come to conclude that this kind of labeling may have outlived its usefulness. While it might serve a purpose for art historians or teachers, these labels can too often be misleading or confusing to the general audience.

“So long as mankind has created art, there have been self-taught artists, and in a general discussion of art history they were considered just that – artists.”

The works are on loan courtesy of Grey Carter-Objects of Art in McLean, Va. Carter has been collecting and representing self-taught artists for over 50 years.

The Self-taught exhibition will spotlight more than 100 works and feature a wide range of media, including many different types of paintings, mixed-media drawings, found object, metal and rock sculpture and hooking. The show will be hung in a “salon-esque” style, says Spenser Brenner, Reece exhibition coordinator.

“This exhibition showcases the creativity, the skills and the drive that these self-taught artists all share,” Brenner says. “It proves that a lack of formal training does not hold them or anyone back from making compelling work.”

An opening exhibition reception with Grey Carter will be held Thursday, July 26, 5-7 p.m., and a closing reception will be held on Thursday, Sept. 27, 5-7 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

For more information please call 423-439-4392 or visit the Reece Museum website at www.etsu.edu/reece.

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