Making a new name for art


Lily Cavallaro ('18)

Abstract art exhibited in a section at the AVAM. Several artists display a diversity in style, while following a similar pattern, unlike anything seen anywhere else.

Lily Cavallaro, Reporter

The city of Baltimore has a reputation unlike any other city in America. Our city bleeds purple in the fall, and orange any other time of the year, attracts millions all over the nation to our very own National Aquarium. Has made it to the big screen and back in productions such as “Hairspray” and “Pink Flamingos.” And without a doubt, has the best crabs around. What most people, and even some Baltimoreans, don’t know is that the home of one of the most influential art museums of our time, is right in our backyard.

The American Visionary Arts Museum (AVAM), walking distance from Baltimore’s inner harbor, is an unsung tourist attraction. The museum exhibits art that is unique to an artist’s specific style. What separates the Visionary Arts Museum from any other established exhibit, is that Congress designated the museum specifically for self-taught art. There are no rules or limits the creator must abide to, every piece is abstract and complex in a way that is nothing like the one before.

“The visionary arts museum is very different from any other art museum in the country. Its style brought a lot of outside voices into the world of art,” art teacher, Sam Tillman said.

As a rule, the museum doesn’t identify their art as “folk art.” “Folk art” is defined as art of the people, but the “raw art” in the AVAM goes against conformity. Breaking tradition, the artists go in depth with their work. “[The artists] listen to their inner voice with such focused attention that contributes to the unusually large number of visionary artworks” according to The main effect of visionary art is the personal connection to a diverse culture felt when observing the masterpieces. The abstraction and variety of the art itself also brings a unifying feeling between the observers and the artists.

The museum creates opportunity and freedom for the artists. Their art can go above and beyond, however they may please.

“The Visionary Arts Museum serves to display art created by those who didn’t go to art school, and even those who have a possible mental illness that could contribute to the individual’s specific style,” Tillman said.

Appealing to the younger generations, the museum presents a new outlook on the art world. The exhibits challenge tradition and compel change, giving a personalized voice to the art.

“The museum changes the setup every year, which keeps it new and interesting,” Flannery Supplee (‘18) said.

One of the most attributing factors to the museum as a whole, is the art that represents the most prideful parts of Baltimore.

“My favorite section is from [the movie] ‘Pink Flamingo.’ They had professionally taken pictures from the filming and it was really cool to see,” Supplee (‘18) said.

The Visionary Arts Museum has opened up new opportunities for art that is unlike any other. As the art continues to develop and change, the AVAM continues to play an influential role art.