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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO—"Do You Know Him?" by Sister Gertrude Morgan in the "Soul of the South" exhibit at the Old U.S. Mint.

The folk art of Sister Gertrude Morgan, Clementine Hunter and Bruce Brice represent three pillars of Louisiana Life: religion, plantation life and celebration. All three African-American, self-taught artists, gained notoriety for the brilliant artistic renderings of these subjects.

Sister Gertrude Morgan was born in Alabama but left her home in 1939 for New Orleans, running an orphanage with two other women in Gentilly and preaching and performing on the street. In 1956, Morgan received a revelation from God that she should use art to spread the Gospel. She painted religious scenes, often from the Book of Revelations, and wrote a messages and scripture interspersed with her images.

Clementine Hunter was the daughter of former slaves and lived her entire life on plantations in the Cane River area. After working in the fields and in the house at Melrose Plantation, an artist retreat, she started painting. She painted plantation life scenes and flowers on bottles, window shades and on the walls of a food storage building at the plantation. Originally she sold her paintings for 25 cents. She produced more than 4,000 paintings and is one of the most celebrated folk artists of the 20th Century.

Bruce Brice was a more contemporary artist, born more than 40 year after Morgan, but his paintings are also colorful renderings of African-American life. Brice’s paintings were exhibited each year at Jazzfest after he created posters for the first fest. Brice’s art depicts second lines, brass bands, Mardi Gras Indians and other New Orleans celebrations.