The Korea Herald


High Museum to feature folk artist Bill Traylor

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 6, 2012 - 17:17

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ATLANTA (AP) ― A new exhibition set to open at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art showcases the work of Bill Traylor, who was born into slavery in Alabama and became a highly respected self-taught artist after he began drawing while sitting on the sidewalks of Montgomery as an old man.

The exhibition, which opens Sunday, features 65 of Traylor’s drawings pulled from the collections of the High and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama. The images were made in pencil, poster paint, charcoal and crayon, mostly on discarded pieces of cardboard. They feature animals and people, sometimes alone and other times in complex interactions in both rural and urban settings.

“There’s nothing harder to do than simple,’’ said High curator of folk art Susan Crawley. “His drawings are so eloquent and so evocative, and he used such simple materials.’’

Traylor was born into slavery on a plantation near Benton, Alabama, in the mid-1850s. He was freed by emancipation in 1863, but he stayed on the plantation and worked as a field hand for more than 50 years. His whereabouts in the early 20th century aren’t entirely clear, but he had settled in Montgomery by 1928. There is no indication that Traylor began drawing before he arrived in Montgomery in his mid-70s.

He spent his days in the state’s capital sitting on city sidewalks drawing, sometimes selling his work to passers-by for a token amount.