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Gifts from Mark and Amy Johnson

In January of this year, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts received as gifts three works of art that were part of the collection of the Museum’s Director Emeritus, Mark Johnson, and his wife, Amy Johnson (pictured above). Mark spent most of his 23 years as Director of the Museum strategizing the refinement and expansion of the Museum’s permanent collection. Much of this involved the Museum’s use of endowed funds to purchase American historical paintings and sculpture (thanks to the generous bequest of Ida Belle Young) or Old Master prints (equally generously funded through the Weil Print Endowment). While he enjoyed the excitement that went along with these searches and purchases, he was personally devoted to more modern works of art, and particularly Studio Art glass and contemporary ceramics. Mark made many friends among the artists in these media, and he valued them as people as well as the art that they made.

The first gift, an intricate and exuberant ceramic platter by Viola Frey, Halo of Possessions, 1994, is currently on view in the exhibition About Face: Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture. Frey (American, 1933–2004) had an incredible influence on the trajectory of figurative ceramics in this country. Her bold and colorful platters such as Halo of Possessions were inspired by found materials gathered from junkyards and flea markets. Casting these objects in clay, Frey assembled them into rich, expressionistic, textural platters that become tableaux of our cultural lives.

Also included in the gift are two sculptures in glass by Seattle-based artist Ginny Ruffner (American, born 1952) that showcase her exceptional creativity and lampworking skills: Learning to Cat Paddle, 1994, and A Not So Still Life, 2000. Ruffner’s works combine her skills as a painter with her training as a flame worker in glass. Her sophisticated, whimsical, and narrative sculptures function as a canvas for her thoughts and dreams as seen in Learning to Cat Paddle. Sharing its title with an award-winning, full-length documentary about Ruffner, A Not So Still Life was featured in the exhibition Creativity: The Flowering Tornado, which the Museum organized and toured in 2003.

The Museum family takes great pride in the work that Mark and Amy invested in the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and in its success over his long tenure. We are tremendously grateful that they have entrusted these outstanding works of art that meant so much to them to our permanent collection.

Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, the Museum is featuring the following works that highlight African-American culture and history from its permanent collection. To browse the permanent collection, click here.

Works

Back Home from Up the Country (detail), 1969

Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988)
Durr Fillauer Gallery

Back Home from Up the Country and In the Garden both relate to a larger thematic grouping of work, The Prevalence of Ritual, which was also the title of an important exhibition of Bearden’s art held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1971. The series references Bearden’s memories of his youth, including many works that refer to his childhood home in rural Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Both demonstrate his characteristic manner of working in collage to create flat, abstract designs that reference recognizable imagery such as the objects and human figures in both works.

View in collection

 


 

In the Garden (detail), 1974

Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988)
Durr Fillauer Gallery

Back Home from Up the Country and In the Garden both relate to a larger thematic grouping of work, The Prevalence of Ritual, which was also the title of an important exhibition of Bearden’s art held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1971. The series references Bearden’s memories of his youth, including many works that refer to his childhood home in rural Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Both demonstrate his characteristic manner of working in collage to create flat, abstract designs that reference recognizable imagery such as the objects and human figures in both works.

View in collection

 


 

The Donkey Cart (detail), n.d.

Clementine Hunter (American, ca. 1886/87–1988)
Blount Galleries

Clementine Hunter was born in the Cane River district of Louisiana and worked for most of her life as a farm hand. Largely without a formal education, she spent her later years working at Melrose Plantation and began to paint by using materials left behind by a visiting artist. Her subjects are typically scenes of rural and agricultural life during the early 20th century, and they form a record of the daily life and activities of that era. The Donkey Cart is an example of her work in this genre, showing a simply composed scene of a field worker transporting cotton in a small wagon.

View in collection

 


 

Hiawatha’s Marriage (detail)

1868 Edmonia Lewis (American, 1844–1907)
Hudson Gallery

Edmonia Lewis was born to an African American father and a Native American mother of the Chippewa tribe in New York. In 1859 she enrolled at Oberlin College to study art and sculpture. She studied with sculptor Edward Brackett, who encouraged her to continue her training in Europe. Lewis produced several sculptural subjects related to her heritage inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 popular poem, “The Song of Hiawatha.” This piece depicts the Ojibwa warrior Hiawatha wedding a daughter of the Dacotah tribe, Minnehaha, to seal a peace between those two nations.

View in collection

 


 

Self-Portrait: When the Left Side of the Brain Meets the Right Side of the Brain (detail), ca. 2006

Charlie Lucas (American, born 1951)
Rotunda

Artist Charlie Lucas originally worked in construction, but after a back injury, he started painting and sculpting as part of his recuperation. Lucas creates sculptures made out of welded metal found objects and scraps. He has had no formal training as an artist; instead, as a child, he learned crafts by watching relatives and tries to keep aspects of these traditions alive in his work. He currently lives in Selma, Alabama, and he has a dream of an interactive theme park where children could play among various kinds of art and could create art with their parents.

View in collection

 


 

Pig Pen Variation (detail), 1986

Mary Maxtion (American, 1924–2015)
Newman Gallery

Mary Maxtion of Boligee, Alabama, was one of the state’s most prolific and skillful quilt makers in the 20th century. Her multi-colored Pig Pen Variation is a version of a popular pattern also known as a House Top. In the pig pen pattern, a medallion of fabric is centered in rows of fabric extending vertically and horizontally, creating brilliant squares that seem to recede into space. Maxtion varied the colors of the strips to enhance that visual illusion by alternating colors that are warm (like red) with others that are cool (like blue).

View in collection

 


 

The Sweat of the Mule and the Sharecropper, n.d.

Joe Minter (American, born 1943)
Caddell Sculpture Garden

Sculptor Joe Minter is from Birmingham, Alabama, and creates his works primarily from discarded, rusted metal. Many of the materials Minter uses speak to his African American family’s roots and the obsolescence of old technology—a visual link to enslavement, for example in his use of plow points and rakes. The plow points and the worn metal shoes from a mule’s hooves hang from chains that allude to forced labor in times of slavery and later in the practices of sharecropping, as well as the “chain gangs” that were a practice in the penal system.

 


 

Untitled (detail), 1999

Clifton Pearson (American, born 1948)
Richard Gallery

Clifton Pearson is an Alabama artist living near Huntsville. His glazed stoneware objects are stylized figures that combine his imagination with reality. This chieftain leader from the Celebrated Figures series exemplifies Pearson’s approach of creating majestic figures from slabs of clay that embody dignity while reflecting various cultures, including African and Native American. Pearson hand-works each piece, highlighting rich textures and ornate headdresses, letting the personality and humanity of each figure evolve through the process.

View in collection

 


 

Rosa Parks I (detail), 2005

Yvonne Wells (American, born 1939)
Blount Galleries

Yvonne Wells is best known for her “narrative” quilts in which she uses the appliqué of hand- shaped fabric pieces sewn to a larger top to tell a story within her design. This image of Montgomery’s Rosa Parks, a pioneer within the Civil Rights Movement, includes references to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, segregated public facilities, and the struggle of Black Americans to guarantee their right to vote.

View in collection

Related Programs

Weekend Tours

Free docent-led tours are offered at 1 PM on Sunday, February 3 and Saturday, February 16. These tours are free and open to the public. No reservation required.

Caddell Sculpture Garden – Ribbon Cutting

On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts officially opened the John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden to the public. Transformed by season, time of day, and even weather, the Garden provides an ever-changing and contemplative haven to view works of art and to enjoy the natural beauty of our Park.

Learn more about the inaugural exhibition, Art in the Garden.

Video

Poetry of Glass

During our recent Poetry of Glass workshop, poet and Auburn professor Janelle Green introduced teens to ekphrasis writing inspired by the exhibition, Lino Tagliapietra: Master of Beauty. She prompted the teens to find three pieces in the exhibition, look at them and think about the musicality, the colors, and the movement in them. Once they did that, the teens were tasked with writing poems inspired by each piece but in different styles. They could rhyme or not. The poems could be long or short. Each different to challenge the teens and their writing.

Poems

Untitled

Elizabeth Efferson, age 17
Inspired by Clodia

Glass leaves, like water droplets.
Shattering when they meet the ground.


Father

Vivian Cunningham, age 18
Inspired by both Fenice glass pieces

A S and a C
The initials of a father
The initials of my father
The initials of someone strong
Someone loving
Kind
Cheerful
There
A S and a C
The initials of my father.


Tower

Kamaryn Ellison, age 17
Inspired by Spirale

A spiraling tower.
Is in the distance.
Stretching toward the sky.
It disappears into the clouds.
The heavens open and shower.
The traveler puts up resistance.
Carried on the wind is a yell of “Why.”
The trees everywhere are like a crowd.
In a cave the traveler cowers.
Still the tower is in an upright stance.
The traveler travels and at night arrives.
Having found true shelter the traveler is proud.


The Tempest

Jordan Scott, age 17
Inspired by London

And I was a child again, running by the sea,
I was laughing loudly, with my mother chasing me.
I can almost smell the air.
I can almost touch the sand.
I can almost feel my sister
As she took my hand.
Then I saw the storm,
I saw my calm destroyed
The waves crashed towards me violently
Then I felt a void.
I remember being scared at the suddenness of the storm.
It is a storm in a child’s eyes.
And all of the fears they form.


Crisp

Tamara Phillips, age 16
Inspired by Kuala

Lapis gemstones, bright and blue
Always remind me of you
Warm embraces, or pleasant surprises
You’re the sunsets to my sunrises
Rigid and cold,
Many fear you
But to me, your heart is clear to see through
Yes, you’ve caused plenty of trouble
And you’re not easy to get along with
Yet there’s not a way to find another
That could steal your show
And you should know,
That just like spring,
You’re quite a great thing
One of my favorite seasons of all
Just after fall


Places

Norah Willis, age 17
Inspired by Avventurine Installation

There’s people
There’s places
There’s towns
There’s faces

We move, we live, we breathe
We are in a way, an epiphany

Lines and borders dived our human lands
Though we are all not that different in the times of sands

We are all born
We all die
We have our lows
And we have our highs

We are all created the same,
Though we come in different shapes and sizes

In a lot of ways we are like a vase
One with many shapes

Love your quirks
Love other’s changes
Love your skin
Love other’s fazes

Accept change
Though it’s hard
But not accepting it
Will leave us scars

Be the clay
Change as your shaped
Love your crazy
And love those who are sane

Contemporary Conversations: Lino Tagliapietra

The Artist

Lino Tagliapietra is one of the greatest glass makers alive today. Growing up in Murano, Italy, and achieving the title of maestro (glass master) at the age of twenty, Tagliapietra is known around the world for his various achievements, not only in glass but in life as well. Due to the poor economy in Murano, many young boys and girls would turn to the glass factories as a way to earn for their families; hence, he began learning his craft at the early age of twelve. When asked to describe what life was like growing up in Murano, Lino begins to reminisce:

“[We have] the war in Spain, we have [the] war in Libya, and we have the war in Africa, and we lived with the war I remember. Then we have the second war…we have the Fascists…we have the Nazi. We have the Deutch (German) people, and then we have the American, English. So in Murano, we are surrounded in a sort of way. In one way we are protected, more than Venice. But still there we had somebody die. Somebody who the Nazis thought was a Jew, meaning they went to a camp…and never came back. And even still, living in Murano is a wonderful experience if you like it. [On] the island, we had 6,000 people [when I was growing up], now we have 6,000 people and maybe 7,000 workers. Many, many people. Now [we’ve gone] a little bit down. I think we are probably 5,000 people, but those 6,000 people had to work. They had very, very little money, much less. If you work…in the glass community, you would make maybe $400 – $800. Besides that, Murano is a wonderful island, I like the small island with [the] small village, [because] everybody knows you. We have created quite a few differences between Venice and ourselves because of the war. We have less pollution, it’s possible to play in the water, possible to go in the lagoon and catch the fish. We have a wonderful life, for some reason. We are poor. The shoes, we only have them sometimes, but we play without shoes. We don’t have a pool, but when we [were] kids they put us in the canal. I think there’s no place in the world like Murano, it’s so beautiful.”

For some, the culture shock between Italy and America would create a difficult challenge when adjusting to the lifestyle. For Tagliapietra, he feels his move to America was relatively easy:

“Because I have curiosity…I feel very comfortable in America. In the island, for example, if you aren’t a master, a good master – okay, not necessarily the top – but everybody thinks: ‘Good master, man!’, you know? So a ‘master’ is something ordinary in many ways and they sort of brush you aside. But in America, everybody respects you. They greet you in a very nice way and then you feel so comfortable, and then the American spirit is possible, trying everything you want. I like it because [once] I came to America I [no longer had to] do production, I [could] do what I [wanted] to do… It is a good feeling.”

The Process

Before starting any glassmaking project, one must be equipped with the proper team. Lino Tagliapietra’s team consists of about 25 people, both men, and women, who love glass. The youngest, according to Tagliapietra, has been working for “maybe 9 years,” but nobody would truly know as the group is constantly working together. Their teamwork boils down to their love of glass – their passion for the craft. Little is actually spoken during the process; instead, Tagliapietra and his team communicate with their hands and movements. When someone does speak, it means they are on the right track: simple words to keep everyone on the same page. Tagliapietra speaks very highly of his team of “wonderful glassblowers.” He finishes his statement on the relationship of his team by telling us, “it’s very important to have the right team. The team, for me, is about being surrounded by people who share the same love.” These words speak volumes, reminding us of how important community and teamwork truly is.

When asked if he could summarize the glass making process in a few sentences, we Muses received a chuckle from the maestro and a doubtful “I will try.” He began to summarize:

“Perhaps the most important part of the glass blowing process is having a clear picture of what you want to make: what form you want, how much color, designs with canes—colored ‘canes’ of glass—or without. There are many factors and decisions that need to be addressed before the glass blowing process even begins. After a clear picture has been envisioned, the next step is to start.”

Once Tagliapietra has chosen his design, the process is very simple; his knowledge of glass blowing makes the entire process look ridiculously easy.

As the maestro of glass blowing, we were all very interested to learn whether Mr. Tagliapietra had ever worked with other materials. His response—perhaps not too surprising to some—was that he has never strayed far from glass. He has dabbled in working with clay and admitted to liking the material, but it was “certainly not glass.” Most interestingly, Tagliapietra likes to cook. He says it is the only other “art” he works with well. His ultimate response was, “Normally, I am a very, very monoculture artist. I blow glass. I do not do anything else. Sometimes I do something, but it is best not to because I know glass and it is my profession.”

Taking a look around a room filled with Lino Tagliapietra’s work is breathtaking. Every piece has its own story to tell and each story possesses its own challenges. While Tagliapietra makes glassblowing look simple to the average person, he demonstrated that every piece of his work holds different levels of difficulty. “Just because a piece looks simple doesn’t mean it was easy,” he explained. When asked if he could pick his most complex work, Tagliapietra chose the Spirale. The Spirale is an oblong glass piece with a seemingly impossible helix design at its core. He proceeded to emphasize its complexity even more, explaining that he could not make a single mistake during the creative process. For instance, when blowing out the design, he could not afford to blow too much or too little; the result would have been disastrously out of proportion. Exactness, precision, and patience are key ingredients for any piece of his work.

Legacy

Our time with Lino Tagliapietra has come to an end. We learned much about both the artist and glassblowing itself through his profound words. But we still had one final question to ask: “What would you say to young people today who are interested in glass blowing but fear they won’t be successful?” Perhaps this was the best question to draw our time with the artist to a close.

“We have a lot of people, young people that want to blow glass, and they want to be successful as well. If you want to blow glass, you must love the material, and you must be very dedicated. Normally, that means you don’t do anything else; you must be open, and work every single day. The important thing is to love what you are doing and to have patience. Find very good teachers and good luck. You know, the material is so fantastic, but I’m probably lucky because the only thing I ever did was blow glass. There is a certain joy when you’re working with a material you love.”

Tagliapietra often reiterates how important art is to his life. Whether in naming a work of art after the places he loves, or taking inspiration from the world around him, he continuously lives, thinks, and breathes the love he has for his craft. He stands firmly in his conviction that art is not just something you do, but it is what you live. It requires dedication, patience, and hard work, but if you have a passion, pursue it to the fullest, and do not stop until it is yours. It is easy to see that he lives by those words prophetically.

Conservation: Untitled (Nymph), 1933

The John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden gained its first permanent resident in October when Jessie Duncan Wiggin’s (1872–1954) Untitled (Nymph) took center stage at the top of the new Garden. While many of its current sculptural residents are intended to be temporary visitors, this lovely bronze dancer will be welcoming visitors to the Caddell Sculpture Garden for years to come.

The Nymph’s journey to the Garden began in New York in 1933. The more than six-foot tall figure was cast at the Roman Bronze Works in New York and depicts a mythological spirit of nature, who, as in this case, is generally shown in a celebratory dance. In mythology, nymphs were associated with locations such as woods, rivers, and streams.

Having already been exhibited outdoors for many years in Robert and Virginia Weil’s Montgomery garden, the sculpture’s surface needed to be cleaned and years of accumulated corrosion removed. It is corrosion of the metal that gives bronze exhibited outdoors a characteristic bright green color over the original patina. The Museum consulted with objects conservator, Michelle Savant of Atlanta for the project. A broken finger was repaired, the sculpture was cleaned, and finally, Savant waxed the surface, which will protect it from further deterioration. This process has returned the sculpture’s surface to its original bronze patina.

The Museum has placed Nymph on a limestone plinth at the top of the Garden, in front of a beautiful natural rock wall that defines the northern edge of the Caddell Sculpture Garden itself. As a garden sculpture in the classical tradition of mythological spirits of nature, Nymph represents a convention in Western art that goes back for many centuries: that of showing female figures as celebrations of nature and of the garden’s natural beauty.

Follow the Conservation Process

Conservator Michelle Savant began work on the sculpture Nymph by washing the bronze with a mild soap and using a low-abrasive pad to remove surface dirt and corrosion.

Once the work had been cleaned, the conservator applied wax to its surface to seal it and protect it from the elements. Garden Superintendent Jeff Dutton assisted by heating the surface with a heat gun, which kept the wax flowing to fill any tiny crevices in the surface.

Finally, once the wax had dried and hardened, the surface was buffed with a clean, lint-free fabric. The Museum staff will continue to apply wax as necessary to protect the work over time.

Volunteer Recognition 2018

Last week, we thanked our volunteers at the annual Volunteer Luncheon. During the event, we recognized those whose service went above the call of duty. Collectively, volunteers donated more than 4,500 hours to the Museum. Without their time we could not bring to life the programs and events that you love. We are incredibly grateful to our 200+ volunteers for their work over the past year.

Awards

Outstanding Event Fundraising: Rachael Gallagher for Art in Concert

Outstanding Contribution to the Junior Executive Board: Griff Waller

Outstanding Welcome Desk Volunteer: Helen Till

Rookie of the Year: Sharon Katona

Support of Education Programming: Jack Banker

Outstanding Contribution to Public Programs: Tom Sellers

Museum Interns: Sally Bae, Karvarus Moore, Cael Barragan, and Aline Sluis

Leadership Recognition: Leslie Sanders and Mary Dunn

Become a Volunteer

There are many opportunities to help the Museum, all tailored to the interest of the individual. Volunteer opportunities have a flexible time commitment, so choosing a position that fits your schedule is easy. Learn more and apply at mmfa.org.

Stars Falling on Alabama

Stars Fell on Alabama

On the nights of November 12 and 13, 1833, a dramatic meteor shower occurred in North American that came to be known as “the night of raining fire” or “the night the stars fell.” The celestial show was so dramatic that many believed it to be an omen portending the end of the world. This event provided the themes for a book and song in 1934, each titled “Stars Fell on Alabama,” a phrase that also inspired the title of Thompson’s commissioned window for the Museum in 1999–2000.

In the window, the center panel is the primary element of the composition, featuring an encounter between earthly and heavenly creatures. A host of celestial beings – winged muses and personifications of the sun and moon – shower artistic inspiration in the form of fireworks on the figures below, who draw, make music, or simply marvel at the heavenly wonder. Muses, or personifications of inspiration, float above while in the foreground a group of stargazers sit under a quilt. Each quilt square has an image that is taken from a painting, sculpture, or porcelain from the Museum’s permanent collection.

Specific to Montgomery are the magnolia trees and people. Thompson has also included two self-portraits: the seated artist painting the scene, and the muse in the orange colored gown holding a tambourine. The artist in the center panel is working on a painting within a painting, with fireworks over a dome similar to the one here at the Museum in Blount Cultural Park.

The two flanking windows contain groupings of figures that are representative of Montgomery’s diverse population and culture. On one side, a man and a child gesture toward the center window event, while in the other, musicians play in celebration of a sky raining stars.

The Artist in the Window

The Studio Glass Movement is centered in Seattle, Washington, and Cappy Thompson is one of the stars of this movement of artistic expression. Thompson began her career as an artist of stained glass in 1976, and she developed her reputation as a glass painter when she moved to Seattle in 1984 and began teaching at the Pilchuck Glass School in Standood, Washington. She is known internationally for her painted blown-glass vessels, mostly narrative sequences that illustrate her understanding of and reaction to myths and dreams. Her art centers on narrative–an individual mythology that she has constructed based upon her longstanding love of storytelling and fantasy.

Thompson takes advantage of the transparent, light-transmitting nature of glass to construct stories on the interior of vessels, like the one from the Museum’s permanent collection or in window-walls such as that found in the Museum’s Lowder Gallery. Her subjects convey visual “blessings” or wishes that she conceptualizes as narratives on the painted surface.

Meet the Artist

Credit lines:

Cappy Thompson (American, born 1952), Lovers Sweet Embrace While Dream Chariot Waits, 1997, vitreous enamel reverse painted on free-blown glass, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Bowen and Carol Ballard, Jim and Jane Barganier, Lucy Blount, John and Joyce Caddell, Dorothy Cameron, Herman and Anne Franco, Ralph and Lila Franco, Mike and Julie Freeman, Corinna Gauntt, Barrie and Laura Harmon, Charles and Donna Ingalls, Richard and Sue Jaffe, Mike and Kent Jenkins, Ray Johnson, Jim and Mary Lynne Levy, Jim and Joan Loeb, Michael and Laura Luckett, Maurice and Peggy Mussafer, Jim Sabel, Philip Sellers, Charles and Winifred Stakely, Andy and Lisa Weil, Jean Weil and Laura Weil, 2000.3

Cappy Thompson (American, born 1952), Stars Falling on Alabama: We Are Enraptured by the Celestial Fireworks of the Muses, 2005, vitreous enamel on glass, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Commission, 2006.2

Art in the Garden: Jun Kaneko

Behind the Art

Born in Japan during World War II, Jun Kaneko immigrated to the United States in 1963 to study painting at Chouinard, now known as CalArts in California. Soon, he began studying with influential ceramic artists including Peter Voulkos; their experiments in removing the functionality from clay in order to work expressively and abstractly led to what is known as the “American Clay Revolution.”

For the last 40 years Kaneko has worked extensively in Ceramics, Painting, Glass & Bronze. In 1985 he moved to Omaha Nebraska— where his current studios consist of over 80,000 square feet in 4 warehouses. A prolific artist, Kaneko is most renowned for his monumental, cylindrical, and triangular-shaped ceramic forms called “Dango”, the Japanese word for “rounded form”. Kaneko began creating monumental ceramics in 1982 using industrial kilns to produce the tallest single ceramic forms measuring up to 13’ tall. These enormous, playful, and innovative sculptures are not only an impressive technical achievement but also demonstrate his mastery of glazes. His works embody several dualities: the combination of painting and sculpture and the balancing of Eastern and Western ideas.
Featured in exhibitions nationally and internationally, Kaneko’s sculptures are also a part of museum collections around the world including the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the National Gallery of Australia, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, and the MMFA. His work Untitled (Dango), 2003, is on view in the Museum’s Young Gallery.

Installation of three of Jun Kaneko’s works: Jun Kaneko (Japanese, born 1942), Untitled (Dango), 2004–2007, glazed ceramic, Lent by the artist

Art in the Garden: Joe Minter

Meet the Artist

A self-taught artist, Joe Minter uses art to tell the story of the history and journey of Africans and African Americans in America. In 1989, he began working on his own sculpture garden, the “African Village in America,” located in Birmingham. Minter feels he is directed by God in this endeavor and creates all of his sculpture from found objects, as he believes that these items contain the spirits of all who have touched them.

Minter was a featured artist in the MMFA exhibition  History Refused to Die in 2015, and his sculptures are part of the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in D.C., and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Joe Minter, Dedicated to All Those Who Served, n.d., found metal, Lent by the artist
Joe Minter, Lumberjack Without a File, n.d., found metal, Lent by the artist

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