Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic

Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic is a current exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum. It is a unique show presenting the magical works of 21 self-taught artists. Though from different times and cultural backgrounds, these artists are connected through their distinctive, personal way of weaving together their own narratives. Most of the artists had been working on the same project all their life, as if guided by some mysterious force.

From Charles A.A. Dellschau’s dreamy, hand-drawn news stories about fictional aircrafts, to Agatha Wojciechowsky’s automatic, spirits-guided watercolor paintings, the works shown at the museum are intriguing narratives that do not fall into any particular school of art. You can say in this way they are more original and can only be done by their corresponding artists. The artist’s life is intertwined with their work,  the artist has become part of the work.

My favorite of all is Jerry Gretzinger’s beautifully drawn, ever-evolving map. Looking from afar, you see a colorful, well-balanced topographical composition with a sense of movement. Looking closer, you’ll discover details such as city names and markings of historical events that tell more about the story. I am especially intrigued by his concept of THE VOID, which blanks out an area on the map, triggering the surrounding neighborhoods to fight for their existence. Though started out as an imaginary map, I can’t help but think there is some reality in it.

Image from artist’s website

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