Soul of the South: Selections from the Gitter-Yelen Collection includes more than eighty paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media works of art created by forty-eight self-taught artists from across the American South.
Dr. Kurt Gitter and his wife, Alice Rae Yelen, former Assistant Director for Education at New Orleans Museum of Art, donated these pieces to the museum in 1998. The couple spent the decade prior to their donation traveling throughout the American South to collect contemporary self-taught art. During that period, Gitter and Yelen met and, in many cases, befriended the artists featured in Soul of the South.
Sometimes referred to as "outsider," "folk," "naive," "visionary," "non-traditional," or "primitive," artworks in the Gitter-Yelen collection defy easy categorization. Each artist has created a highly personal statement that represents an individualistic response to his or her environment. Subjects range from the autobiographical, as seen in the work of Roy Ferdinand, to the documentation of daily life, as seen in Clementine Hunter's portrayal of plantation life. Religion inspires several artists, including Sister Gertrude Morgan and the Reverend Howard Finster.
Soul of the South: Selections from the Gitter-Yelen Collection will be on display through June 2019.