Yesterday was a gallery day for JB and I. The highlight was definitely the Heaven + Hell show, a collaborative exhibit by both Luma (Loyola University Museum of Art) and the Intuit Gallery for Intuitive and Outsider Art. Heaven images were dislayed at Luma and Hell at Intuit. The show was curated by Molly Tarbell and Ann Petrie who took two years to select appropriate outsider and folk artists whose main work was steeped in visions of heaven and hell. The above two images used as the marketing for the show were done by William Thomas Thompson.
The works in this exhibit were created by untrained artists most of whom have had personal visions and strong religious leanings and creative interpretations of those leanings. Many would not even call themselves artists. The overwhelming impression is raw and genuine and sometimes complicated and even disturbing. There is no conscious marketing sense or commercialism in these images. These are the visions of artists driven by the content of their work—artists who are intense, singularly focused, obsessive, passionate, without a hint of artifice. The use of detail and words to help convey their messages enriches and layers their visions and images. One becomes compelled, as a viewer, to plumb the psyches of those who created these works.
One becomes increasingly convinced walking through the two exhibits that heaven and hell are not external locations, but clearly internal and very personal places, created as a way to survive a very real turmoil and a consuming urge for salvation within.