The quilters of Gee’s Bend make art out of recycled cloth. Lonnie Holley crafts sculptures out of car tyres and other human detritus. Self-taught luthier Freeman Vines carves guitars out of wood that came from a “hanging tree” once used to lynch black men. The “yard shows” of Dinah Young and Joe Minter are permanent exhibitions of their art – a cacophony of “scrap-iron elegies”. Almost all of this art comes from Alabama, and it all features in We Will Walk, Turner Contemporary’s groundbreaking new exhibition of African-American art from the southern state and its surroundings. Made from found and recycled material, this is art truly from the margins. It’s from places such as Gee’s Bend, the segregated hamlet now known as Boykin, where Martin Luther King travelled in 1965, taking his message about the importance of voter registration. Despite its humble materials, it has echoes of another Alabama son, the jazz band leader and philosopher Sun Ra, and his Afrofuturist message about his own interstellar origins and otherworldly black excellence. Cultural critic Greg Tate describes the artists in We Will Walk as “southern black visionaries and homegrown technicians of the sacred” who deal in “neo-hoodoo imaginations and hollering bebop… Read full this story
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