February 3, 2019 - Smithsonian American Art Museum - Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor
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February 3, 2019

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bill Traylor, Untitled (Seated Woman), ca. 1940–1942. Pencil and opaque watercolor on paperboard. Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Margaret Z. Robson Collection, Gift of John E. and Douglas O. Robson. © 1994, Bill Traylor Family Trust.

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor
September 28, 2018–March 17, 2019

Symposium: February 22, 1–6pm

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Eighth and F Streets N.W.
Washington, D.C., 20004
USA
Hours: Monday–Sunday 11:30am–7pm

T +1 202 633 1000

americanart.si.edu
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube / #atSAAM

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor
September 28, 2018–March 17, 2019

Symposium: February 22, 1–6pm

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Eighth and F Streets N.W.
Washington, D.C., 20004
USA
Hours: Monday–Sunday 11:30am–7pm

T +1 202 633 1000

americanart.si.edu
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube / #atSAAM

Bill Traylor (c. 1853–1949) is among the most important American artists of the 20th century. Born in antebellum Alabama, Traylor was an eyewitness to history—the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, the Great Migration, and the steady rise of African American urban culture in the South. In the late 1930s, a decade after leaving plantation life and moving to the city of Montgomery, Alabama, Traylor took up pencil and paintbrush and created a visual autobiography, images on discarded cardboard extracted from his memories and experiences. When he died in 1949, Traylor left behind more than 1,000 works of art, the only known person born enslaved, and entirely self-taught, to create an extensive body of graphic artworks.

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor brings together 155 drawings and paintings to provide the most encompassing and in-depth study of the artist to date. This major retrospective is drawn from public and private collections across the United States and abroad, and includes 17 works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It presents a comprehensive picture of Traylor’s stylistic development and artistic themes, explored in the context of the profoundly different worlds Traylor’s life bridged: rural and urban, black and white, old and new.

Organized by Leslie Umberger, curator of folk and self-taught art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibition is accompanied by a groundbreaking monograph in which Umberger thoroughly reassesses the known facts of Traylor’s life and family, his creative trajectory, and the art world’s discovery of him and positions him within the broader context of American art. The museum is the sole venue for this exhibition.

Symposium
On February 22, 2019, SAAM presents an afternoon of lectures and discussions inspired by the exhibition. Participants include:

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Moderator

Radcliffe Bailey, artist
“Bill Traylor Blue”

William Ferris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“Memory and Sense of Place in the Art of Bill Traylor”

Randall Seth Morris, independent curator, writer, and co-owner of Cavin-Morris Gallery
“Hoodoo in the Homeground: The Conjure Context in Bill Traylor's Drawings”

Diana Baird N'Diaye, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
“Bill Traylor’s Stylescapes”

Richard J. Powell, Duke University
“Bill Traylor's Yellow Chicken

Leslie Umberger, exhibition curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum
“The Art of Bill Traylor: Interpreting a Visual History”

The program will be webcast live on SAAM's website and available for future viewing on the museum's YouTube channel. A full program and schedule is available online.

This program is the inaugural symposium in the Margaret Z. Robson Symposium Series. Support for the series is provided by Douglas O. Robson. 

Book
The exhibition is accompanied by a monograph written by Umberger with an introduction by acclaimed artist Kerry James Marshall, published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with Princeton University Press.

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