Insiders Information on the Outsiders Art

The PMA makes history with their current exhibition by displaying the works of previously unknown artists.


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“Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection
Philadelphia Museum of Art
March 3, 2013 – June 9, 2013

The under-belly of the art world is turned right side-up in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s current exhibition––“Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection. Who exactly are these so-called “outsiders?” The PMA likes to answer this question by saying, “the basic answer is that it is art made by people who have not gone to art school.” The artists featured in the exhibition aren’t professionals. Outside of the PMA’s walls you might even hesitate before calling these works “art.” However, our reactions to these paintings and sculptures are a little more complex then the “I can do this” or “my kid can do this” response the masses had to, well, everything from impressionism and on, they are laced with personal stories of struggle and triumph.


One can feel the angst behind William Hawkin’s Boffo, appreciate the intricate line work behind Consuelo González Amezcua’s Filligree Drawing with Pen and Ink, and be moved by Elijah Pierce’s Love, despite the fact that these artists were self-taught


The DIY element doesn’t subtract from the strength of the pieces, instead it demonstrates the unlimited nature of art. You don’t have to make a living off of art, or go to school for it, to be an artist. The collection displays over two hundred original works by 27 unfamiliar artists.


Learn more about “Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Amanda V. Wagner is a junior English Major at Drexel University and the student editor of the Cultural Passport. Follow Amanda on twitter at @amandavwagner

Images Courtesy of the PMA
Artwork featured in this article:

Horse with Short Tail, William Edmondson
Boffo,  William L. Hawkins
The Lamb’s Bride Resting in her Chariot, Sister Gertrude Morgan
Steamship with Propeller and Anchor, David Butler
House with Two Men, Dog, and Bird, Bill Traylor
Sunkist Lemons, by Eddie Arning