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My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art from the American South

Finley, Cheryl, Randall R. Griffey, Amelia Peck, and Darryl Pinckney
116 pages
112 illustrations
Read an <a href="" target="_blank">interview</a> with author Amelia Peck on Now at the Met.
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My Soul Has Grown Deep considers the art-historical significance of contemporary Black artists and quilters working throughout the southeastern United States and Alabama in particular. Their paintings, drawings, mixed-media compositions, sculptures, and textiles include pieces ranging from the profoundly moving assemblages of Thornton Dial to the renowned quilts of Gee’s Bend. Nearly sixty remarkable examples—originally collected by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation and donated to The Metropolitan Museum of Art—are illustrated alongside insightful texts that situate them in the history of modernism and the context of the African American experience in the twentieth-century South. This remarkable study simultaneously considers these works on their own merits while making connections to mainstream contemporary art.

Art historians Cheryl Finley, Randall R. Griffey, and Amelia Peck illuminate shared artistic practices, including the novel use of found or salvaged materials and the artists’ interest in improvisational approaches across media. Novelist and essayist Darryl Pinckney provides a thoughtful consideration of the cultural and political history of the American South, during and after the Civil Rights era. These diverse works, described and beautifully illustrated, tell the compelling stories of artists who overcame enormous obstacles to create distinctive and culturally resonant art.

Between Earth and Heaven, El Anatsui  Ghanaian, Aluminum, copper wire
Two Men Walking, Bill Traylor  American, Tempera and pencil on paper, American
ca. 1939–43
Composition, Piet Mondrian  Dutch, Oil on canvas
Bill Traylor People, Mose Tolliver  American, Housepaint on plywood
Woman Grinding Coffee, Jean Dubuffet  French, Plaster, oil, and tar with sand on canvas
Emma Van Name, Joshua Johnson  American, Oil on canvasPainting
ca. 1805
Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks  American, Oil on canvas, American
ca. 1830–32
Self-Portrait II, Horace Pippin  American, Oil on canvas, adhered to cardboard
From My Studio Window, John Kane  American, Scottish, Oil on canvas, American
Untitled, Emmer Sewell  American, Vulcanized rubber, polypropylene, polystyrene and concrete and soil
early 1990s
The Enemy Amongst Us, Ronald Lockett  American, Commercial paint, pine needles, metal, and nails on plywood
Winter Pool, Robert Rauschenberg  American, Combine painting: oil, paper, fabric, wood, metal, sandpaper, tape, printed paper, printed reproductions, handheld bellows, and found painting, on two canvases, with ladder
The Crommelynck Gate with Tools, Jim Dine  American, Painted bronze
Böhmen liegt am Meer (Bohemia Lies by the Sea), Anselm Kiefer  German, Oil, emulsion, shellac, charcoal, and powdered paint on burlap
Minnie and Her Friends, Georgia Speller  American, Tempera and graphite on paper
Untitled, Henry Speller  American, Colored pencil, crayon, and graphite on paper
Four Hundred Years of Free Labor, Joe Minter  American, Welded found metal
African Mask, Lonnie Holley  American, Gum, plastics, nylon and metal
America Today, Thomas Hart Benton  American, Ten panels: Egg tempera with oil glazing over Permalba on a gesso ground on linen mounted to wood panels with a honeycomb interior
The Welder, Dox Thrash  American, Carborundum mezzotint
ca. 1936–41
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My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art from the American South. 2018. New York: The Metropolitan museum of art.