The Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting, preserving, and exhibiting work by African-American artists from the American South, has named artist Mary Margaret Pettway as the new chair of its board of trustees.
Pettway, a third-generation quilter and member of the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective, has been a trustee of the foundation since 2017. Pettway also leads quilting workshops and is an instructor at the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center in Camden, Alabama. She will serve as board chair from 2018 to 2020.
“The Souls Grown Deep Foundation was formed to promote the work of artists from the African-American South and to advocate for their rightful place in the narrative of American art history,” Maxwell L. Anderson, president of the foundation, said in a statement. “As we continue this work, we believe that a natural extension of our mission is to find ways to serve the communities in which these artists and their families live and work. We are excited to develop new programs that advance these goals under the leadership of our new chair, Mary Margaret Pettway.”
Additionally, the foundation is launching a grant program that aims to address socioeconomic issues in communities represented in the collection. Program organizers are developing a plan to improve living conditions in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and the first grants provided travel funds for artists and their families to attend the opening of “History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gifts” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Future areas of grant activity will be announced within the 2018–19 fiscal year.
The SGDF has also adopted a three-year strategic program, which focuses on the continued transfer of works from its own collection to museums around the U.S. Most recently, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond acquired 34 works—including pieces by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Purvis Young, and Gee’s Bend quilters—from the foundation. Those works are slated to go on view at the museum in 2019.