Blogpost by Lisa Piper (one of the owners of the collection)…….
I’ve often wondered where the term Outsider Art begins and where it ends. Can it be used for cooking where food and images collide in experimental new ways? Chefs are not trained as visual artists, but what they come out with is miraculous like this interpretation of a mojito cocktail.
Does it apply to buildings like the Minister’s Treehouse in Crossville, TN? Functional, but made with minister Horace Burgess’ creative vision. Built over the years with any and all lumber he could find to provide a church worthy of God’s grace.
The same can be asked of the Gee’s Bend quilts made entirely for practicality but completely imbued with the grace of the quilters. These kinds of questions have kept coming up for us as we go through the collection we were gifted. All of it is wonderful art and all is worth saving, but some pieces bring up interesting questions. What about the carved piece from a stall in a flea market in Africa? Copies stand side by side, but all done by a man there. What about another piece done by a well trained and educated artist who is choosing to express herself in primitive form. What about all the incredible artists who know how to market themselves well and use every means available today to maintain a living? Are they “outsiders”? Does that term even matter?
We’re spending a lot of time talking about this and trying to sort it out in our own minds. This will help us shape the museum with each exhibit. Whatever you call these pieces and where ever they come from we love it all and we want to be able to communicate that to our visitors. Enjoy the ride with us!