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The number of artists whose works reflect some dimension of the Southern experience is large, but only a few can be mentioned in this brief survey.

However, a bright star of the South that gleamed brilliantly, but briefly, was Malvin Grey Johnson (1896-1934). Johnson, born in Greensboro, North Carolina, and like many Afro-American artists in the South, traveled North to study at the National Academy of Design in New York. He was a frequent exhibitor in the Harmon Foundation and other exhibitions in the late 1920's and early 1930's, until his untimely death in 1934. Johnson left such paintings a Southern Landscape (1934) and many generic figurative works that allude to a Southern provenance.

Paintings by other artists, such as Rex Gorleigh's Plowin' (1940), James L. Wells' prints of religious subjects and of workers, Palmer Hayden's John Henry Series, and selected works of Jack Jordan, Lawrence Jones, and Phillip Hampton, all reflect some aspect of the South as a distinct place.


"Gonna boogie in the dark"... words from a blues lyric. Meaning that in order to make the "right" moves on the dance floor, no natural or artificial illumination is needed. Such is analogous to those artists who spent their formative years in the South, but left for the urban North never to fully re-establish actual roots in the South but returned through brief visits, recollections--memory. It is the type of memory that is invoked by the Spirituals, and certain blues lyrics.