The Original Makers: Folk Art from the Cargo Collection

In commemoration of Alabama’s Bicentennial, the Birmingham Museum of Art is proud to present The Original Makers: Folk Art from the Cargo Collection, an exhibition featuring more than 160 outstanding works of folk art from the Museum’s permanent collection.

As a new generation of Southern makers explores the joy of creating, this exhibition celebrates the artists who have lived in our midst, inspired by their life experiences, their faith, their communities, and the landscape around them. Documenting many Southern ways of life, in all their variety, The Original Makers explores themes that have inspired self-taught and craft artists over many decades, including scenes of daily life and work, nature, faith and religion, patriotism, and music. Works of art range from stunning quilts, drawings and paintings, to wooden and metal sculptures, and functional objects such as bird houses – all made in Alabama and several neighboring states.

A special focus on the Reverend Benjamin Franklin Perkins will evoke the aesthetic of his home and property which was densely covered with paintings and signs inviting passersby to visit his church. The exhibition will also explore the deep-rooted Alabama tradition of quilt making with examples of quilts that date from the mid-1800s to the late 1900s, and include traditional patterns, crazy quilts, story quilts, and a quilt produced by the Freedom Quilting Bee.

Featured artists include Leroy Almon, Nora Ezell, Sibyl Gibson, Ralph Griffin, Bessie Harvey, Shields Langdon Jones, Charlie Lucas, Rev. B. F. Perkins, Joanna Pettway, Herbert Singleton, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver, Fred Webster, Yvonne Wells, Chuckie Williams, and many others.

The Original Makers: Folk Art from the Cargo Collection is an exhibition of works from the permanent collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art – all drawn from a major gift of Caroline Cargo, together with gifts from her late parents Dr. and Mrs. Robert and Helen Cargo. Over many years, their generous contributions have helped the Birmingham Museum of Art establish one of the most comprehensive collections of folk art in the Southeast.

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Pine Burr or Petal Quilt, about 1960 –1970 Made in Tuscaloosa, Alabama Cotton, wool, polyester, nylon, silk, and corduroy Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Gift of Helen and Robert Cargo