HICKORY - Hickory Museum of Art will present a screening of the film, “Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts,” at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Drendel Auditorium of the SALT Block, located at 234 Third Ave., NE, Hickory. Free, on-site parking is available. The North Carolina Folk Art Society is sponsoring this event.

This new documentary by Breakaway Films and award-winning director/producer Jeffrey Wolf explores the life, art and legacy of Traylor, whose art has risen to international prominence in recent years. Traylor was born into an enslaved family about 1853 on a farm in Dallas County, Alabama. Following emancipation, he spent most of his life as a sharecropper in the area.

It was only after 1928, when he moved to Montgomery,  and eventually became homeless that he began making art. At the age of 85, he began drawing and painting on scraps of cardboard. From 1939 until 1942, he produced more than 1,000 works of art that reflected on his experiences and observations.

Traylor’s art is the largest body of work by a black artist of this time and place to survive.

Charles Shannon, an academically trained artist from Alabama, recognized Traylor’s genius and attempted to bring his work to the attention of the larger art world, with mixed success. Critical reaction to Traylor’s art has evolved over time. Traylor has now been accepted as a self-taught master whose work belongs in the top tier of American art.

Traylor’s art was a part of the 1982 watershed exhibit “Black Folk in America 1930-1980” at The Corcoran Museum in Washington, D.C. It was at that exhibit that Wolf first encountered Traylor’s art.

Wolf will be present at Hickory Museum of Art event to discuss his film. This event will be open to the public. Admission, payable at the door, will be $10 for the general public, $5 for members of the North Carolina Folk Art Society or the Hickory Museum of Art, and free for students with a student ID.

Before the showing of the film, there will be a 3 p.m. tour of the museum’s exhibit, “Juan Logan: Creating and Collecting.” The public is invited to join the NC Folk Art Society on this free docent-led tour. Logan is a retired University of North Carolina art professor, whose installations, sculptures, prints and paintings are included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Mint Museum of Art, and many more. 

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