‘Outsider art’ focus of McKissick Museum exhibit

The Artists Inside Outsider Art running through March 5, 2022

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McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina presents an exhibition full of permanent collection pieces showcasing southern self-taught artists.

The Artists Inside Outsider Art is an exhibition drawn from McKissick Museum’s permanent collection of artworks that are often referred to as “Folk Art,” “Outsider Art,” or “Self-Taught Art.” The collection, some of which will be on display for the first time, dates between the 1940s and the 1990s and includes well-known southern artists like Thornton Dial, Bessie Harvey, and R.A. Miller. Primarily self-taught, these “outsider” artists often use bright colors and found or recycled materials like wood, clay, and metal.

#SCartists Richard Burnside, who has two works included in the State Art Collection, and Columbia’s “Chicken Man” Ernest Lee are included in the exhibit.

Outsider art can have many definitions, but most agree that it includes forms of creative expression that exist outside accepted cultural norms or the realm of “fine art”. The exhibition dives into some of the challenges in using different descriptors but eschews much of controversy surrounding the collecting and selling of “outsider art” or “self-taught art”. Rather than perpetuating stereotypes that these artists somehow belong outside of the art world, The Artists Inside Outsider Art is an attempt to reconcile that marginalization by acknowledging that these artists have their own agency, and through their agency, they have made art that reflects their cultural experiences as southern contemporary artists.

For Faculty Curator Dr. Lana Burgess, this exhibition is personal. “When I began my curatorial career I had the opportunity to meet some of the artists exhibited here. Talking to and working with them, I began to learn how many of them created art without a specific audience in mind. I invite visitors come and celebrate the ingenuity of the men and women who literally took materials readily available and made southern contemporary art.”

The Artists Inside Outsider Art will be on view from Nov. 8 through March 5, 2022. The public is invited to a free opening reception on Tuesday, Nov. 16, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Register for your tickets online or by calling 803.777.2876.

McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum, located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe, has more than 140,000 objects in its collection, including one of the most extensive natural science collections in the Southeast. McKissick is home to the Folklife Resource Center, a repository of folklife and traditional arts materials of value to Southern folklife researchers. For visitation information, online exhibits, and more, please visit sc.edu/mckissickmuseum or call 803.777.7251.