Elaine Yau Lecture

The School of Art lecture “Sister Gertrude Morgan’s Visual Vocality: Tradition, Innovation, and the Hearing the Artist-Outlier” was presented by Elaine Y. Yau (Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive) August 23, 2018.

During the 1970s, the New Orleans-based evangelical missionary Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980) produced drawings and paintings that many have recognized as “tools of her ministry.” While the content of her visual art had clear links to African American Holiness-Pentecostal preaching traditions, the media of drawing and painting had few precedents within her New Orleans’ church. This talk argues that Morgan’s visual art was innovative as well as traditional, emerging at the convergence of her divine calling with the cultural marketplace of the street and music festival. It further ruminates on the recent re-framing of “self-taught” and “outsider” artists as “outliers” and the degree to which this new paradigm opens can forge more inclusive kinds of art history.