Contemporary Folk Art by Dr. Charles Smith (1940-)
January 6 – February 12, 2015
Kristin Wigley-Fleming, Center For the Arts
This exhibition, curated by Katie Mathis ’15 as part of her Senior Project in Art History, consists of six sculptures created by contemporary folk artist, Dr. Charles Smith.
In 2001, the Kohler Foundation of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, purchased over 448 of Smith’s knee-high, figurative sculptures in order to restore and preserve them for future generations. Since this time, the Kohler Foundation has gifted many of these sculptures to over nineteen institutions across the United States, including the Lanesboro Arts Center in Lanesboro, MN. In 2014, the Lanesboro Arts Center gifted these six sculptures to the Luther College Fine Arts Collection.
Though not a doctor by training, Charles Smith adopted the title “doctor” due to the many instructional experiences and professions he has had. From serving in the Vietnam War and holding several positions within various social and political groups to becoming an ordained minister through the Church of God, Smith ultimately learned that the task of exposing and challenging racism in America must come from within the African American community itself. Therefore, in 1985, Smith founded and created the African American Heritage Museum and Black Veterans Archive. This sculptural environment is made up of large fixed monuments, a huge memorial for the 7,000 African Americans killed while serving in the Vietnam War, as well as hundreds of knee-high figurative sculptures, which each represent the influential people and events of African American history, ranging from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement to the present.