Discovery Park of America to Open Southern Artist Showcase Exhibit featuring ‘The Caldwell Collection, Works by Southern Self-taught Artists’

Union City, Tenn. – Discovery Park of America will open the next Southern Artist Showcase on Thurs., March 4, 2021, in Art Hall. This collection is on loan from the West Tennessee Regional Art Center (WTRAC) in Humboldt, Tenn. This is the second exhibit on which Discovery Park and the WTRAC have partnered.

“The Caldwell Collection, Works by Southern Self-taught Artists” will include artwork from various Southern artists including Ludie Amos (1935), Jimmy Lee Sudduth (1910-2007) and Burlon Craig (1914-2002). All of the artists featured were self-taught, embracing their passion in lieu of any formal training. Each of the artist’s style is unique to their own influences.

Ludie Amos was born in Georgia in 1935 and was one of ten children. One of her chores was to push the needle back up through the quilt as her mother sewed for her family. Her mother passed away when Amos was nine, and she was sent to Cleveland to live with her aunt. Transitioning from being one of ten children to a household where she was an only child, Amos found she had a lot of time on her hands. She discovered an interest in and talent for creating art in a variety of mediums. Discovery Park will have one of Amos’s handmade, one-of-a-kind dolls, “Glimpses,” on display in this year’s Southern Artist Showcase.

Jimmy Lee Sudduth, another artist whose work will be featured, was born in Alabama and created art using the natural materials around him. All of his pieces were made with mud mixed with sugar water and color extracted from weeds and vegetables. Sudduth rarely used an actual paint brush. Instead, he used his fingers to paint skyscrapers, chickens, old houses and the Statue of Liberty. Sudduth’s artwork to be on display includes “Man With Fish Head,” “Indian,” “Statue of Liberty,” “Alligator,” “Man in Blue” and “Lady in Red.”

The exhibit will also feature the pottery of Burlon Craig. He was born in North Carolina and grew up on a farm with his parents and nine siblings. When Craig was in the first grade, he watched potter Will Bass mold clay and became immediately interested in pottery. In the 1930s, Craig worked with multiple potters to improve his art using the clay that he dug up from the banks of the Catawba River in North Carolina. Craig’s alkaline glazes were made of crushed glass bottles, wood ashes, iron cinders, water and clay that he would grind on the hand-turned, water-powered stone mill. In the 1980s, Craig’s pottery shop became a mecca for students of the Catawba Valley alkaline-glazed stoneware tradition because he retained all the old techniques. Several of his face pitchers and other pottery pieces will be on display in this exhibit.

“Self-taught Southern artists have in common a powerful belief that they simply ARE artists, and most seem driven to express themselves visually,” said Bill Hickerson, executive director of the WTRAC. “Some work within established traditions, while others create their own distinct art forms.”

The WTRAC collection was donated by Dr. Benjamin and Gertrude Caldwell for the purpose of cultural education for people of all ages throughout West Tennessee. “By extending their collection to Discovery Park, the WTRAC is fulfilling both the Caldwell’s intended vision and Discovery Park’s mission to inspire children and adults to see beyond,” said Jennifer Wildes, senior exhibits director for Discovery Park. “We hope the artwork will inspire our guests to see what type of art they can create themselves.”

This display will be open March 4 through Sept. 27, 2021 and is included with park admission or membership. Make plans to visit Discovery Park of America this spring and summer and take in these pieces of artwork. “Southern Artist Showcase: The Caldwell Collection, Works by Self-taught Artists” is sponsored by The Citizens Bank (TCB).

Discovery Park is strictly following all recommended health and safety guidelines. All guests three and older are required to wear masks when visiting.

Photo caption: Discovery Park of America’s senior exhibits director, Jennifer Wildes, carefully unpacks pottery pieces of Southern artist Burlon Craig with the painting, “Lady in Red,” by Jimmy Lee Sudduth.