Alabama artists talk with National Endowment for the Arts chair

Primbondh/ July 29, 2022/ history of arts

  • Public support for the arts used to mean bringing outside artists to underserved populations.
  • “Now, it also includes lifting up those arts that are from Alabama,” said folklorist Joey Brackner.
  • NEA chair joins discussions about resources available to fund, support artists in rural Alabama.

Above all else, the Alabama Black Belt values its history and traditions. The quilts, sculptures and paintings that come from the region tell its story, and they are integral to the Black Belt’s cultural and economic vitality.

Women in rural Wilcox County sew colorful quilts today because that was their great-grandmothers’ livelihood decades ago. It reminds them of the time when their Black ancestors quilted for warmth on plantations or when they found economic empowerment in selling their art during the Civil Rights Movement.

Charlie "Tin Man" Lucas visits the Prattauga Art Guild showing of his work at the Prattville Creative Arts Center in Prattville on Sept. 14, 2014.

Charlie Lucas, famed Selma “Tin Man” sculptor, makes his art because “art is our history.” His great-grandfather was a blacksmith, and he was the person who introduced Lucas to the metalworking he incorporates into each of his pieces. 

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