Souls Grown Diaspora
Souls Grown Diaspora is an exhibition that explores a generation of leading contemporary visionary African-American artists from the wider United States, and situates their work into an art-historical lineage shaped by the Great Migration. The exhibition traces the migration: the movement spanning 1916 to 1970 in which six million African-Americans left the rural South for urban centers such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Oakland. Souls Grown Diaspora follows a new wave of artists, mostly self-taught, whose works address a range of revelatory social and political subjects.
The show's title takes its inspiration from Atlanta's Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which has worked for decades to change the canon of art history to include a group of pioneering African-American artists from the South—among them Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Mary T. Smith, Hawkins Bolden, and the women's collective known as the Gee's Bend Quilters (Arlonzia Pettway, Annie Mae Young and Mary Lee Bendolph)—as essential to the understanding of developments in the history of American art. The name "Souls Grown Deep" originates from the last line of Langston Hughes' 1921 poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers": "My soul has grown deep like the rivers."
A collection of research material will be included in vitrines and a series of performances and talks will accompany the exhibition during its run.