Five U.S. museums are diversifying their collections with help from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.
Lucy T. Pettway, Blazing Star (quiltmaker’s name) with “pinwheel” corner blocks, 1968. Acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Courtesy Souls Grown Deep Foundation.
The Brooklyn Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, Morgan Library & Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art have acquired a total of 51 works by 30 African American artists of the South from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation (SGDF). The acquisitions include a large number of quilts by the revered quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, which are heading to the Brooklyn Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, the MFA Boston, and Spelman College. The Brooklyn Museum will also acquire works by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, and James “Son Ford” Thomas; the Dallas Museum of Art is acquiring works by Dial, Ronald Lockett, and Nellie Mae Rowe; and the Morgan is acquiring drawings by Dial, Rowe, Henry Speller, Luster Willis, and Purvis Young.
The new acquisitions build on a program launched by SGDF in 2014, when it gifted 57 works to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has subsequently placed works in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, and many more.
Nellie Mae Rowe, Picking Cotton, 1981. Acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art. Courtesy Souls Grown Deep Foundation.
In a statement, SGDF president Maxwell L. Anderson said:
We could not be happier to announce that five additional institutions will now have significant holdings of these artists in their permanent collections. These acquisitions will broaden the exposure of works by these important American artists among audiences around the country and provide new opportunities for exhibition, research, and other partnerships.
In addition to the museum acquisitions, the foundation will use the proceeds from the upcoming sale of a painting by Dial, Fading (2002), to fund a paid internship program that will support undergraduate students of color doing internships at museums that have acquired works from SGDF. Fading, which goes to auction at Christie’s New York November 16th, has a pre-sale estimate of $60,000–80,000.
James “Son Ford” Thomas, Untitled, 1987. Acquired by the Brooklyn Museum. Courtesy Souls Grown Deep Foundation.