Great and Mighty Things exhibit

May 15, 2013 8:49:08 AM PDT
There are some great and mighty works on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Great and Mighty Things is the name of the exhibit and it's 200 works of so-called outsider art pieces produced by self-taught artists who never received any formal training, but had an irrepressible drive to create.

Long-time Philadelphians Jill and Sheldon Bonavitz spent the past 30 years putting the collection together?.works that stand out for their color and whimsy.

Ann Percy, Curator of Drawings, Philadelphia Museum of Art said, "It's more personal. It's more, not involved in theory at all. It's not involved in styles and trends and movements."

Outsider art was first explored as a genre in Europe where it was considered art of the mentally ill. In America, the definition is much broader.

"it's had a lot of names over the decades-naïve, primitive, folk, self-taught, they're almost all born poor, have little formal education, have no art education and usually have menial jobs and do their art because they do what they do," said Percy.

And they do what they do with whatever materials they can find.

Percy added, "There's chicken bones. There's turkey bones. There's tree roots and branches. There's soot out of stove top mixed with spit."

While most did consider themselves artists, at least one did not. Nebraska farmer Emory Blagdon thought he was building a healing machine.

"He expected to harness the electro magnetic fields of the earth and cure people of diseases and it didn't work, but it was an amazing object," said Percy.

Great and Mighty Things is on exhibit through June 9th.

For tickets, go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.