hat title looks rather stuffy for the fresh and spontaneous paintings of Dorothy Shelby. But that is what we are showing. The title sent me to the web to do a little research.
"Retrospective means looking back. An art exhibit that covers an artist's entire career is called a retrospective because it looks back at the work that artist has produced over many years." (vocabulary.com/dictionary) Dorothy is showing her very first painting done at age 64 and another done within days of the first one and some done last week as well as others throughout the years in between.
"Folk art" is fairly simply defined as "art made by the common people, notably from rural areas." (Encyclopedia of Art History) Yep, that sounds like Dorothy, although there is nothing common about this extraordinary woman and artist. Of course, the discussion of folk art on the web goes much beyond simple but htis definition serves us here.
"Primitive" is another rather simple concept about art that gets pretty complex in the art essays. However, in general, primitive art is considered to be a "part of a culture, linked up with the history of the culture and with the history of the people. Consequently, we should view primitive art as merely a general term covering a variety of historical phenomena; the products of different races, mentalities, temperaments, historical events, and influences of environment." (Encyclopedia of Art History)
When Dorothy picked up that first paintbrush to become the artist that she knew she was, she joined a long line of artists who have painted in a primitive folk art style. Some were academically trained like Matisse. Many more were self taught: Rousseau, Frida Kahlo, Grandma Moses, and Clementine Hunter.
However, all of these fancy art words don't really matter when you stand in front of the wall of Dorothy's art and see her life and her memories in every painting. And maybe recognize parts of your own memories: your own baptism, your dad talking about picking cotton, quilts that your grandma made, chickens in your own yard. And I think that is the important thing to find in a piece of art--your own connection.
Join us tomorrow to celebrate Dorothy and her art.
The pieces below are (left to right, top row) Rousseau, Kahlo, Grandma Moses. Bottom row Clementine Hunter