The Creative Spirit

May 17 - July 22, 2012

The charm of folk art and outsider art is irresistible. Self-taught artists were moved by their own creative spirit and followed their impulses to express deeply felt emotions and ideas. This exhibit showcases the exuberance and diversity of folk art with examples of face jugs, furniture, paintings, quilts and carvings, inspired by themes such as religion, politics and daily life.  Assembled by Mark Chepp, (Director of the Springfield Museum of Art 1991-2006), “The Creative Spirit” displays the enthusiasm of a collector, and the delight of an engaging genre of art.

Member Opening Reception: May 17, 2012

Sponsored by:
Ervin & Marie Wilkof Foundation
Chesapeake Energy
Mark & Beverly Belgya
Rachel Davis Fine Art
The Volunteer Angels


The Experience of Collecting

A personal collection of art almost always begins with the vision—one might even say the compulsion or obsession—of a single individual.  These are the objects or artifacts that this person has chosen to surround himself with, to create a kind of environment.  Usually a collection is thematically based on a single notion (genre), but just as often it can be broken down into multiple sub-categories. 

For the collector, there need be no greater reason for acquiring certain objects beyond the mere fact that they please or amuse him.  He may regard these “collectibles” as humorous, or sentimental, or spiritual, thought-provoking, or just curiously attractive.  The motive of the collector is largely unpredictable, and if questioned, might not be able to explain the compulsion!

Mark Chepp, whose collection is the subject of “The Creative Spirit” exhibition, is primarily interested in objects made by untrained artists of the “folk” tradition, what he prefers to call “outsider” art.  Some of the artists have established a reputation and take great pride in “signing” their work.  But most of the items shown here comes from the hands of anonymous artists who were motivated by their own Creative Spirit to make something entirely original and personal, without regard for fame or money.  Not anticipating that anyone outside their own world would be interested in their effort, why sign a piece that would probably never leave home?  This is where the collector comes on the scene, who admires the work for any of a multiplicity of reasons, and feels compelled to offer a price in order to own it.  Potential market value or reputation of the artist are not in his realm of interest, only his personal response to the piece. 

And so, the gallery visitor expecting to find a consistent theme or “idée fixe” running through the “Creative Spirit” exhibition will be forced rather quickly to abandon hope of finding one, wandering among these sub-collections of canes, prison art, religious depictions, bottle-cap figures, face jugs, whatever.  Perhaps the best advice is to adopt Mark Chepp’s position, and that is to respond personally to each artifact as you see it, and form your own judgments and opinions.