Hello, my name is Julie Aronson, Curator of American Paintings, Sculpture, and Drawings and curator of Creating Connections: Self-Taught Artists in the Rosenthal Collection. I will be reading the Introduction to the exhibition.
Creating Connections explores our mysterious relationships with works of art, both in their making and experiencing. It takes us on a journey into the meaning of art for its creators and makes us consider our responses to their work. It also examines historic approaches to the creations of self-taught artists and how we devise a more equitable and inclusive art history.
This exhibition celebrates the individuality of a diverse array of self-taught artists and their connections: their shared humanity, commitment to art making, and inseparability from their cultures. Some of these talented artists found inspiration in their communities, others from perusing magazines or visiting museums. While some used conventional art supplies, others creatively repurposed materials close at hand. Artists with representation in museums and galleries during their lifetimes appear alongside those whose creative output remained obscure or known only to a few people. For those artists who have faced enormous challenges, art has been a lifeline and a beautiful way to connect with and be seen by others.
In the 1990s, Richard and Lois Rosenthal began to collect work by self-taught artists. Since Lois’s passing in 2014, the collection has continued to build through the mutual decisions of Richard and Katherine Rosenthal. The Rosenthals have imposed no strict parameters on the collection, acquiring only pieces to which they experience an immediate attraction. The artists’ compelling stories and the messages they communicate appeal powerfully to Richard Rosenthal, who has made a promised gift to the museum of selected pieces in this exhibition.