(New Orleans, LA) – Ogden Museum of Southern Art announces a monumental exhibition to
celebrate its 20th anniversary as home to the most significant collection of art of the American
South in the world. Knowing Who We Are will open on January 28, 2023 and tells an updated
story of the South through the permanent collection and recent major acquisitions.
Drawing inspiration from Ralph Ellison who said, “knowing where we are has a lot to do with
our knowing who we are,” this exhibition provides a portrait of place that challenges
conventional notions of Southern identity. With a geographic region spanning from Baltimore to
Miami to El Paso, Knowing Who We Are celebrates the diversity of the region – its histories,
cultures and proximate traditions – offering a view of Southern identity that is more fully
representative of its people. This exhibition traces how artists in the American South – with
every developing art movement – responded with a characteristic blend of tradition and
innovation, while vigorously and authentically questioning the complicated and often tragic
history, in both perception and reality, of the region.
This exhibition reconsiders the development of visual arts in the American South from the
19th century to the present. In doing so, it shifts focus from antiquated stereotypes of region,
period, style and subject to address a contemporary understanding of varied histories,
reflecting broader representation and promoting historic inclusivity. “This installation explores
the contributions of artists who were transformative yet historically unrecognized,” says William
Pittman Andrews, Executive Director of Ogden Museum, “and highlights how they and their
extraordinary accomplishments have come to the forefront of international attention.”
“We are profoundly grateful for the support of the Terra Foundation,” says Andrews,
“especially for their belief that the story of American art can be enriched through their vision to
illuminate diverse histories, inspire present connections, and create equitable futures.”
Bradley Sumrall, exhibition curator, states, “This exhibition reveres the true diversity of the
South, offering a view of Southern identity that is inclusive and representative of its people, and
highlights the critical role art plays in talking about the past, embracing the future, and being a
bridge for the reconciliation of both.”
Sumrall added that subjects explored through the exhibition and associated programming
include women in Southern abstraction, photography of the Civil Rights Movement, LGBTQ+
artists in the deep South, the immigrant experience in the American South, and the role of art in
For the first time since the Museum’s grand opening in 2003, one exhibition will encompass
the entire museum – one of its largest projects to date – a yearlong investigation of the art of
the most identifiable region in the nation, and exploration of its visual culture which has
On the fifth floor in The Helis Foundation Gallery, Knowing Who We Are: The Contemporary
Dialogue considers how artists of the South explore concepts of process, place and identity
through diverse media and practices, and features major works by Benny Andrews, Sheldon
Scott, Dawn DeDeaux, RaMell Ross, Ruth Owens, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Willie Birch, Michael
Meads, Katrina Andry, Christian Dinh, Pat Phillips, Lin Emery, and many others.
Knowing Who We Are: The Rise of Abstraction, Vernacular Art and Photography on the fourth
floor of Goldring Hall traces the development of abstraction in Southern Art through examples
by leading figures including Fritz Bultman, Dusti Bongé, Sam Gilliam, Ida Kohlmeyer, Robert
Reed, Eugene Martin, Minnie Evans, John T. Scott, Kendall Shaw and Dorothy Hood, among
From 19th Century Academic Painting through Southern Regionalism on the third floor illustrates
the transformation of art and its influences through early photography, Impressionism, the Arts
& Crafts Movement through American Scene Painting, Social Realism and Regionalism, and
includes work by artists Jacques Amans, Joseph Meeker, Ellsworth Woodward, Lulu King
Saxon, Julian Onderdonk, Elizabeth Catlett, George Ohr, Angela Gregory, Richmond Barthé,
Bill Traylor, Walker Evans, Benjamin Wigfall, Walter Anderson and many more.
Major funding for this exhibition has been provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
through “Re-envisioning Permanent Collections: A Special Initiative for US Museums.”
Ogden Museum of Southern Art opened to the public in the newly completed Goldring Hall in
2003. With a founding donation of over six hundred works by Roger Houston Ogden, the
Museum has continued to collect – expanding to over four thousand works of art that empower
the Museum to tell the story of the South. After 20 years, Ogden Museum has had ample
opportunity to expand this narrative while celebrating the diversity, complexity and vibrancy of
the region – both physical and cultural.
The Museum’s exhibition will feature works divided by movements. Each exhibition will be
opened separately by floor and will be divided into three distinct movements in Southern art.
These include The Contemporary Dialogue (opening on Floor 5 on January 28, 2023), The Rise
of Abstraction, Vernacular Art and Photography (opening on Floor 4 on April 1, 2023) and From
19th Century Academic Painting through Southern Regionalism (opening on Floor 3 on April 1,
A complete list of exhibitions can be found by visiting www.ogdenmuseum.org.
About Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Located in the vibrant Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana since
1999 and open to the public since 2003, Ogden Museum of Southern Art invites visitors to
experience and learn about the artists and culture of the American South. Ogden Museum is
home to a collection of more than four thousand works, making it the largest and most
comprehensive repository dedicated to Southern art in the nation, with particular strength in
the genres of Self-Taught art, Regionalism, photography, and contemporary art. The Museum
is further recognized for its original exhibitions, public events and educational programs, which examine the development of visual art alongside Southern traditions of music, literature and local craft.
Ogden Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission is free to Museum Members and $13.50 for adults, $11 for seniors 65 and older,
$6.75 for children ages 5-17 and free for children under 5.
The Museum is located at 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. For more
information visit ogdenmuseum.org or call 504.539.9650.
About The Terra Foundation for American Art
The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding,
and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences.
Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art, the foundation provides
opportunities for interaction and study, beginning with the presentation and growth of its own
art collection in Chicago. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation
supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs.
Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and
to unite them.