Press preview for the exhibition “Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor”
Thursday, Sept. 27
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Sign-in: 11 a.m.
Remarks: 11:30 a.m.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Enter at Eight and G streets N.W.
Leslie Umberger, curator of folk and self-taught art
Bill Traylor (ca. 1853–1949) is among the most important American artists of the 20th century. Born in antebellum Alabama, Traylor was an eyewitness to history—the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, the Great Migration and the steady rise of African American urban culture in the South. In the late 1930s, a decade after leaving plantation life and moving to the city of Montgomery, Alabama, Traylor took up pencil and paintbrush and created a visual autobiography—images on discarded cardboard extracted from his memories and experiences. When he died in 1949, Traylor left behind more than 1,000 works of art, the only known person born enslaved, and entirely self-taught, to create an extensive body of graphic artworks.
“Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor” brings together 155 drawings and paintings to provide the most encompassing and in-depth study of the artist to date. This major retrospective presents a comprehensive picture of Traylor’s stylistic development and artistic themes, explored in the context of the profoundly different worlds Traylor’s life bridged: rural and urban, black and white, old and new.
“Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor” will be on view at the museum Sept. 28 through March 17, 2019. Organized by Leslie Umberger, curator of folk and self-taught art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibition will be accompanied by a groundbreaking monograph in which Umberger thoroughly reassesses the known facts of Traylor’s life and family, his creative trajectory and the art world’s discovery of him and positions him within the broader context of American art. The museum is the sole venue for this exhibition.
Interested media should RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Photographers and film crews are welcome; contact the office in advance to make arrangements. Find additional press materials at americanart.si.edu/press.
About the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Its Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. Admission is free. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website: americanart.si.edu.