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Coleman 2
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This essay has the following objectives: 1) to discuss the forging of an Afro-American artistic tradition in the South-- folk and formal dimensions; 2) to discuss the creative expressions of Afro-American artists that reflect the South as a sense of place and as memory-- a state of mind; and 3) to discuss examples of recent art that reflect some of the transformations that are taking place in the New South.

Whether we have reference to those of the nineteenth century or those of the recent past, few Afro-American artists are without connections to the South. Robert Duncanson (1821-1872), now recognized as an important artist of the famed Hudson River School, spent a brief period sketching and painting in the South. The Dean of Afro-American artists, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) though born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was just one generation removed from the South in that both of his parents were Southern born and Tanner himself worked briefly in the South before heading for Europe. Canadian born William Harper (1873-1910) taught drawing in the public schools of Houston before leaving for Paris in 1903, where he was an informal student of Henry Ossawa Tanner. However, the beginnings of an Afro-American artistic tradition in the South cannot be linked to the Southern interludes of these very talented artists, but to individuals of more humble origins-- the often anonymous folk craftsmen in those geographical areas not too distant from port cities such as New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, places where enslaved Africans first set
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