March Collection Highlight: Exploring the Work of Minnie Evans for Women's History Month

Minnie Evans, Untitled, c. 1970, Mixed media on paper

In honor of Women’s History Month we are highlighting the work of Minnie Evans, featured in our exhibition, What Music is Within: Black Abstraction from the Permanent Collection.

The paintings and drawings of Minnie Evans depict scenes from the artist’s personal dream world. The central theme in Evans’ paintings are organic objects, plants and and eyes encompassing a human face. In a sense, the figures in her work can be seen as biblical. Her paintings are essentially religious, and represent a world in which God, man and nature are interchangeable.

By incorporating mediums such as color pencils and wax crayons into her work, she was able to execute vibrant details in texture, tints and hues. In doing so, her drawings are often symmetrical and depict a whimsical world. The juxtaposition of vibrant flowers among human features makes her work seem surreal. The bright colors and floral motifs that appear in her paintings were most likely inspired by trees and flowers, especially azaleas, at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, where Evans worked as the gatekeeper for many years.

Evans’ designs draw inspiration from various cultures such Caribbean, East Indian, Chinese and Western elements, in regards to color choice and theme. An interesting aspect about Minnie Evans’ work is that even though her work is similar in color and content, no two pieces are alike. Each piece is revitalizing and reveals a different idea of a unique garden paradise.

Minnie Evans died in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1987, but Evans and her work remain a strong voice of expression in the Ogden Museum’s permanent collection.

Happy Women’s History Month!


Smithsonian American Art Museum