Hickory Museum of Art (Hickory, NC)

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  Young boy standing beside a sculpture of an old sumo wrestler.<br />

Sumo by Jeff Williams was shown in the Hickory Museum of Art exhibition Homegrown and Handmade: Selected Works from the Huffman Collection of Southern Contemporary Folk and Outsider Art in 2005. Images courtesy of Hickory Museum of Art

Although American art was almost unrecognized outside of New York and Philadelphia in 1943, the North Carolina city of Hickory became the first city in the southeast United States to establish a museum of American art. With the help of artists associated with the National Academy of Design in New York (established in 1823), the Hickory Museum of Art (HMA) became what was called the "Southern outpost of the National Academy."

In FY 2005, HMA received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 to support the exhibition Homegrown & Handmade: Selected Works from the Huffman Collection of Southern Contemporary Folk and Outsider Art. The exhibition, displayed from April 23 – July 24, 2005, included more than 200 sculptures, paintings, and drawings by 105 self-taught artists, many from North Carolina. A video on Vale native Minnie Reinhart, who died in 1986 and whose art is part of the collection, ran throughout the day as part of the exhibition. A 28-page catalogue accompanied the exhibition, and teacher packets were produced and distributed  to local schools. More than 11,500 people attended the exhibition.

The exhibition was the first of four planned annual exhibitions featuring outsider art from the Huffman Collection. Dr. Allen Huffman and his wife Barry had collected this contemporary Southern folk art over the past 25 years. Homegrown & Handmade represents the first time the American public has had an opportunity to see such a broad view of the collection, of which many pieces have been loaned to museums nationally and internationally.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)