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Souls Grown Deep: Volume Two. (eye).

Souls Grown Deep: Volume Two
by William and Paul Arnett
Tinwood Books, October 2001
$100.00 ISBN 0-965-37663-X

Exploring the importance of folklore, religion, perseverance and persistence within African-American vernacular art, Souls Grown Deep: Volume Two revisits this unique and underappreciated genre of American art.

Using the analogy of the African-American musical tradition (i.e. gospel, blues and jazz) with their second volume, the Arnetts continue their mission of offering a wider perspective of the African-American visual tradition, and proclaim the existence of a homegrown visual blues. Reproducing the work of some 31 self-taught artists, with more than 100 full-color illustrations, Souls is as visually comprehensive as it is thematically groundbreaking.

Souls includes essays by Lowery Stokes Sims, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem and art critic and theorist Thomas McEvilley, as well as first-person narratives from artists such as Thornton Dial and Betty Avery. With each story and chapter, there is an interesting mix of perspective.

For example, in her essay entitled "Self-Taught and Trained Artists: An Evolving Relationship," Sims surveys the 20th century--from the Harlem Renaissance to the present--and hones in on specific historical moments in which the symbiotic relationship between academically-trained and self-taught African-American artists and their relationship to the marketplace comes of age. In his narrative "Mr. Dial Is a Man Looking for Something," artist Thornton Dial speaks about his Sumter County, Alabama upbringing and his many artistic influences.

In all, Souls Grown Deep: Volume Two brings insight to work previously excluded from critical consideration, especially with interest in outsider art now being given serious attention.

--Le Ronn Brooks is a painter and curator working toward his doctorate in art history.
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Author:Brooks, Le Ronn
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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