Sarah Vowell

  • “Passionate Visions of the American South”

    Raymond Coins’ cedar sculpture of his wife Ruby is covered in a flower print dress. The clothes are cheap and flimsy, but the figure underneath couldn’t be more solid or insistent. With “Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present,” an exhibition currently at the University Art Museum in Berkeley, a kind of sanctuary has been created for 80 artists whose 270 creations reflect an inner strength and obstinance that transcends their impoverished environment.

    The term “self-taught,” with its Abe Lincoln-reading-by-the-firelight stubbornness is emerging as