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Contemporary Art in Savannah – Part 1

Contemporary Art in Savannah

Savannah is not absent of art by any means, the city celebrates film on a regular basis as well as music in its annual festivals. It is also home to many architectural feature buildings and several galleries and even a handful of different theatres which host their own productions. But with all of this what makes the place so desirable to outsiders is the rich history that is tied to fabric of the place, this dark and interesting shadow of the past is everywhere. This however may be the opposite of what those seeking more modern works are searching for, but Savannah is not void of contemporary art either, here are a selection places to get your fix on pieces that have been created well within the last 50 years.

Hurn Museum – Contemporary Folk Art

The contents of this gallery may sound a lot like an oxymoron, because it seems that folk art can’t really be contemporary. The idea in many people’s minds of folk art is small handmade trinkets and knick knacks that can range from wooden carvings to quilts and hats, and while this isn’t exactly incorrect these items aren’t what you are going to see on display here. Keen to define what their collection is about the idea behind Hurn’s selection process is fairly simple: Folk art minus crafts but with added meaning.


What You Can Expect?

Well with their mission statement in mind the works here are mainly hung pieces which means you will be browsing canvas to canvas as you may have done in many galleries before. The subject matter however is just as broad as anywhere else, although the content is ‘Folk’ in the sense that it is autobiographical in many cases thus outwardly showing the feelings of an individual or a community, there are different categories to explore. Take their exhibit on existentialism for example, this darker and much more enigmatic series shows the often-unspoken thoughts that pass through our minds when we are left alone with ourselves. Artist Purvis Young who, as a former inmate had plenty of time to reflect on what it is to be a human being created a handful of works here. His paint on canvas includes obvious inspirations from his time on the inside as his obsession with locks comes to the forefront of his pieces, questioning how we can unlock both our physical forms and our mental ones.


Savannah is a place where the history of the slave trade in imbedded into the concrete, and so much of the art whether old or new often shows a perspective of the horrific events that befell so many. In this space at the Hurn, the bodies of slaves can be seen painted as overlapping squiggles in Young’s work, showing both their great numbers and their insignificance in the eyes of the slavers. This and many other cultural and regional events are depicted in the faces and bodies applied in acrylic and ink and displayed for all to see as this museum celebrates the ability of artists to visually chronicle the lives of themselves and their neighbours. Visit it on Savannah’s Taylor Street.