Galleries for Folk and Self-Taught Art

Media - 1970.353.1-.116 - SAAM-1970.353.1-.116_9 - 127238

James Hampton's Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly, ca. 1950-1964, mixed media, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of anonymous donors, 1970.353.1-.116

SAAM’s collection of folk and self-taught art represents the powerful vision of America’s untrained and vernacular artists. Represented in the museum’s collection are pieces that draw on tradition — such as quilts — as well as artworks that reveal a more personal vision. The museum has reimagined its permanent collection galleries for art by untrained artists, which now display several dozen recent acquisitions and an expanded presentation of the beloved Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly by James Hampton.


Recently acquired works by Consuelo Gonzalez Amezcua, Emery Blagdon, David Butler, Ulysses Davis, Ralph Fasanella, Clementine Hunter, Dan Miller, Joe Minter, Eddy MummaJ.B. Murray, Achilles Rizzoli, Melvin Way, Charlie Willeto, Clarence and Grace Woolsey, Purvis Young, and Albert Zahn join visitor favorites by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Martín Ramírez, and Jon Serl. A striking presence in the galleries is a display of more than sixty sculptures and paintings by Emery Blagdon that represents his constantly changing Healing Machine. It is the second-largest installation of his work on public view in the United States.

The new installation of the Throne includes Hampton’s personal journal, written primarily in an asemic, or unreadable script, and a chalkboard still showing some of Hampton’s sketched plans for the Throne. Both are on public view for the first time; the journal will be on display for a limited time.

Visiting Information

1st floor West
Open Daily, 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m
Free Admission



The museum’s Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. American Folk Art Fund provided support for this installation.

Online Gallery

Media - VR.2014.49.GRP - SAAM-VR.2014.49.GRP_1 - 126327
The Healing Machine
Dateca. 1955-1986
mixed media
On view
Media - 2016.14.5 - SAAM-2016.14.5_2 - 129305
Untitled (Yellow and Blue House with Figures and Dog)
colored pencil on paperboard
Not on view
Media - 2014.61.1 - SAAM-2014.61.1_2 - 120817
Dateca. 1968
paint on tin
On view
Media - 1986.65.382A-B - SAAM-1986.65.382A-B_1 - 10010
man: carved and painted wood guitar: carved wood
On view
Media - 1993.1.3 - SAAM-1993.1.3_3 - 127003
Yielding to the Ancestors While Controlling the Hands of…
Dateca. 1992
oil on wood and metal
Not on view
Media - 2015.58.34 - SAAM-2015.58.34_1 - 121590
Untitled (Seated Hessian Soldier)
Dateca. 1924 - 1950
painted wood
On view
Media - 2015.58.27 - SAAM-2015.58.27_1 - 121641
Untitled (Caparena figure)
Dateca. 1961 - 1972
bottle caps, wood, and wire
On view
Media - 2016.5.37 - SAAM-2016.5.37_1 - 119180
Untitled (String Quilt with Diamond Pattern)
Unidentified (American)
Not on view
Media - 2016.5.25 - SAAM-2016.5.25_1 - 119153
Untitled (Octagons and Bars)
Unidentified (American)
Date1930s - 1940s
Not on view


Consuelo González Amézcua
born Piedras Negras, Mexico 1903-died Del Rio, TX 1975

Consuelo "Chelo" González Amézcua was a self-taught artist born in Piedras Negras, Mexico, in 1903. She immigrated to the United States in 1913.

Emery Blagdon
born Callaway, NE 1907-died Callaway, NE 1986
Ulysses Davis
born Fitzgerald, GA 1913-died Savannah, GA 1990

Davis developed his wood-carving skills on his own over a period of more than fifty years, beginning during his childhood in Fitzgerald, Georgia.

Ralph Fasanella
born New York City 1914-died Yonkers, NY 1997

Ralph Fasanella celebrated the common man and tackled complex issues of postwar America in colorful, socially-minded paintings. Fasanella was born in the Bronx and grew up in the working-class neighborhoods of New York.

Lonnie Holley
born Birmingham, AL 1950
Media - Hunter_Clementine.jpg - 144033
Clementine Hunter
born near Cloutierville, LA 1886/7-died near Natchitoches, LA 1988
On a Louisiana plantation built on the labor of enslaved workers and reinvented, in the twentieth century, as an artists’ and writers’ retreat, Clementine Hunter painted everyday scenes she felt historians overlooked.
Media - Miller_Dan.jpg - 144040
Dan Miller
born Castro Valley, CA 1961

Miller was born in California’s Castro Valley in 1961 and joined Creative Growth, the same art studio where Judith Scott worked, in 1992. There he began making large, abstracted graphic works that function as communiqués in a self-shaped language.

Joe Minter
born Birmingham, AL 1943
Eddy Mumma
born Milton, OH 1908-died Gainesville, FL 1986
J. B. Murray
born Sandersville, GA 1908-died Sandersville, GA 1988
Martín Ramírez
born Jalisco, Mexico 1895-died Auburn, CA 1963

Ramírez left Mexico as a young man to seek employment in the United States.

Media - Rizzoli_Achilles.jpg - 144037
Achilles G. Rizzoli
born Point Reyes, CA 1896-died San Francisco, CA 1981
Media - portrait_image_113660.jpg - 90355
Jon Serl
born Olean, NY 1894-died Lake Elsinore, CA 1993

According to Jon Serl, this painting began one afternoon with the drawing of a neighborhood boy who interrupted Serl's painting.

Melvin Way
born Ruffin, SC 1954
Media - willeto_charlie_with_family.jpg - 90564
Charlie Willeto
born Nageezi, Navajo Reservation (Dineteh), NM 1906-died Nageezi, Navajo Reservation (Dineteh), NM 1964

A traditional Navajo sheepherder, Charlie Willeto began carving in the early 1960s, only a few years before his death.

Clarence Woolsey
born Hugoton, KS 1909-died Waterloo, IA 1987
Albert Zahn
born Natelfitz, Germany 1864-died Baileys Harbor, WI 1953