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But the gritty and unforgiving banks life also meant that a community learned to survive on its own. Tom Davis, former longtime principal and superintendent in Carteret County, described to me the traits of the small fishing community in which he grew up: patience, individual responsibility, a strong sense of right and wrong, peer pressure to bring offenders of community standards back into line, and an extended family when needed. What I faced in Hurricane Bertha was slight compared to San Ciriaco. The water that day crested a foot shy ofmy home. A few trees were lost, a pier was destroyed , and perhaps a ton of debris washed into the yard. In 1 899 San Ciriaco forever changed the life ofdozens of families and an island. Barfield writes that a Hatteras weather observer said the storm blew nonstop for three days, building to 140 miles per hour and dropping the barometer to record lows. The storm washed completely over Shackleford Banks, which had two schools, a church, a "porpoise factory," homes, gardens, and cemeteries. At the height of the storm, every part of the island was from three to ten feet underwater. The weather observer wrote, "The howling wind, the rushing and roaring tide and the awful sea which swept over the beach and thundered like a thousand pieces of artillery made a picture which was at once appalling and terrifying and die like of which Dante's Inferno could scarcely equal. Those that survived moved to Morehead City and odier nearby communities, and the island is uninhabited to this day." The pictures and words of Barfield's Seasoned by Salt beautifully reflect an uncommon , independent people at times brave, grisdy, and immoderate. Part of what we wonder when we see such pictures as these is, could we have lived like that? Would we have made it? In die larger sense, we did. They are, after all, our people. Our heritage. Passionate Visions of the American South Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present An exhibit curated and a catalog edited by Alice Rae Yelen New Orleans Museum ofArt, 1993 357 pp. Cloth, $65, paper, $37.50 Reviewed by AlHlO L McClanan, doctoral candidate in the department of fine arts at Harvard University. She is writing her dissertation on the representation of Byzantine empresses and is keeper of the coins for Harvard University Art Museums. 90 Reviews The exhibition catalog Passionate Visions oftheAmerican South embraces a diverse and engaging assemblage of contemporary plain artists. From 1993 to 1995 the exhibition traveled to New Orleans, Berkeley, San Diego, Washington, DC, and finally to Raleigh; the accompanying catalog is a substantial volume. Although it relies too heavily on well-worn clichés of folk-art scholarship, Passionate Visions nevertheless succeeds on odier terms. Ranging deftiy over an often-neglected panoply ofunorthodox artistic expressions, this gathering ofimages is sometimes better understood as an expression of American popular visual culture rather than a representation of a unique southern "folk" vision, as implied by the catalog contributors. The American flag and die Statue of Liberty, for example, are popular images from mainstream American culture that appear in works by these artists. The catalog consists of two distinct sections. The first comprises essays from authors as wide-ranging as William Ferris, Jane Livingston, Susan Larsen, and Lowery Stokes Sims, as well as multiple contributions from the exhibition curator , Alice Rae Yelen. These short essays are followed by the catalog of artworks, grouped under such thematic headings as "Nature" and "Religious and Visionary Imagery." The basic definitions of the exhibition warrant scrutiny—even the term "selftaught " is misleading. For instance, Linvel Barker's work, including his lindenwood Giraffe, one ofthe catalog's highlights, belies that label. Parker's work shares salient qualities, such as medium and animal themes, with diat of his mentor and inspiration, artist Minnie Adkins. Their relationship refutes an assumption made about this art: that each ofthese "self-taught" artists expresses herself or himself in a unique idiolect born out of the exotic southern hinterlands. Although die secondary tide of the catalog, Self-TaughtArtistsfrom 1940 to the Present, clearly establishes a time frame, the curator's sense of history is amorphous . The earlier...


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pp. 90-95
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