Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 the Present, and exhibit curated and a catalog edited by Alice Rae Yelen (review)

Passionate visions of the American South: Self-taught Artists from 1940 to the Present, an exhibit curated and a catalog edited by Alice Rae Yelen (New Orleans Museum of Art, 1993)

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Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 the Present, and exhibit curated and a catalog edited by Alice Rae Yelen (review)

by Anne L. McClanan
Southern Cultures, Vol. 3, No. 2: Summer 1997

New Orleans Museum of Art, 1993

The exhibition catalog Passionate Visions of the American South embraces a diverse and engaging assemblage of contemporary plain artists. From 1993 to 1995 the exhibition traveled to New Orleans, Berkeley, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and finally to Raleigh; the accompanying catalog is a substantial volume. Although it relies too heavily on well-worn clichés of folk-art scholarship, Passionate Visions nevertheless succeeds on other terms. Ranging deftly over an often-neglected panoply of unorthodox artistic expressions, this gathering of images is sometimes better understood as an expression of American popular visual culture rather than a representation of a unique southern “folk” vision, as implied by the catalog contributors. The American flag and the Statue of Liberty, for example, are popular images from mainstream American culture that appear in works by these artists.