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Alabama Wall I

1985 William Christenberry Born: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1936 Died: Washington, District of Columbia 2016 metal and tempera on wood 45 3/8 x 50 1/2 in. (115.3 x 128.3 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase 1986.8 Smithsonian American Art Museum
3rd Floor, North Wing

Gallery Label

William Christenberry grew up immersed in the landscape and history of the American South. Even after settling permanently in Washington, DC, in 1968, he continued to make an annual pilgrimage to his childhood home in Alabama, returning repeatedly to rural Hale County where he had spent summers on his grandparents' farm. The photographs, sculptures, and assemblages that Christenberry made throughout his career were inspired by his deep connection to this place, and the traditions, disruptions, and complicated social legacies that defined it. Alabama Wall I is a quilt of sorts: a rough homage to the region's culture made from found objects including license plates, advertising signs, and corrugated and rusted metal. The repeated number 36 is the license plate code for Hale County as well as the year of his birth, intimately joining the artist and landscape into a single form.


Allegory - place - Alabama

Architecture - vehicle - detail

Object - other - sign



paint - tempera