back bounded-next cafe calendar-large calendar cart close coat-check collapse donate download elevators expand explore filter grid-view hamburger heart hours join link list-view location mail more next nursing-room phone print programs ramp restrooms right-arrow search share shop thumbs-down thumbs-up tickets up toilet heart-filled zoom Skip to Content

Past Exhibitions


'Wedding (Bride)' by Sulton Rogers

A Cut Above: Wood Sculpture from the Gordon W. Bailey Collection

May 14–October 30, 2016

This exhibition both celebrates recent gifts from Gordon W. Bailey and demonstrates how the medium of wood inspires a wide range of creative mastery among contemporary self-taught artists.

Click on an image below to learn more.


A Cut Above presents the varied approaches of a group of artists to a common material. From discarded or inexpensive manufactured board to naturally occurring branches, roots, and stumps, wood is widely available to artists without access to or interest in traditional art supplies.

Some sculptors are uniquely receptive to how the natural properties of wood—its bulk, hue, grain, and essential spirit—harbor narrative, human, and animal forms that are not visible to others. The self-taught artists whose works are on display brilliantly reveal the inner life of their medium. Leroy Almon and Elijah Pierce communicate their insights through finely cut bas-relief panels, while Bessie Harvey and Ralph Griffin animate tree fragments into roughly hewn creatures.

On view for the first time, the exemplary wood carvings in this exhibition come from three substantial gifts that collector, scholar, and advocate Gordon W. Bailey has made to the Museum since 2010. His largest and most recent gift of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper is particularly transformative, strengthening the Museum’s holdings of work by Southern, African American, and self-taught artists.