Fresh and exciting, the unorthodox work of the self-taught artist confounds our understanding of contemporary art. Presented in colour, this collection of examples from Florida artists attests to an intensely personal yet universal desire for self-expression. From sculpture in wood and tin to paintings on canvas, grocery bags, and old pizza boxes, the pieces display a raw emotion and independent spirit that typically disregard artistic rules, training and traditions. Gary Monroe examines the distinctive features of each artist's work and places it in the context of the national dialogue about folk art. He also summarizes the debate about terminology - labels such as naive, outsider, visionary, vernacular and folk all have been used to describe these mavericks - in a discussion that challenges presumptions about aesthetic criticism. The text explores each artist's creative process, revealing lives fuelled by inner inspiration and generally isolated from the art market, from institutional support, and from mainstream culture. It also includes dramatic photographic portraits of the artists - some with international reputations and others known mainly in Florida or entirely unknown to the public - as well as information about their background, current work, and location in the state.
Gary Monroe, professor of visual art at Daytona State College, is the author of The Highwaymen: Florida's African-American Landscape Painters (UPF, 2001), Life in South Beach, and Florida Dreams and coeditor of Cassadaga: The South's Oldest Spiritualist Community (UPF, 2000), in which his documentary photographs appear.