“Coming Home!: Self-Taught Artists, the Bible, and the American South”

Museum of Biblical Art

“Coming Home!: Self-Taught Artists, the Bible, and the American South” was a Trojan horse of sorts. Organized by the Art Museum of the University of Memphis, it quietly infiltrated New York via the newly established Museum of Biblical Art. There it challenged the folk/outsider art establishment by unapologetically celebrating Southern culture and evangelical Christianity as the context best suited to facilitate an understanding of the region’s self-taught artists. “Coming Home!” was part of a growing critical/curatorial move toward the reclamation of such artists from both the carnivalesque sales hype of outsider art—which banks on stereotypes of eccentricity and social isolation—and the sanitized neomodernist formalism that defines blue-chip American folk art as sanctioned by mainstream museums and auction houses.

By organizing ninety-five paintings and sculptures by seventy-three artists—from

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