Symbols, meanings of “yard work” to be topic of illustrated lecture at AU museum

'Silver-painted Construction,   The Reverend George Kornegay, Brent, AL, 1992' (photo by J. McWillie)

AUBURN – Judith McWillie, professor of art in the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, will discuss the cultural traditions of decorated yards as part of the “New Perspectives: Alabama Art in the Open” lecture series on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 4 p.m., at Auburn University’s Jule Collins Smith Museum.

In “‘Doing Things Right’: Traditional Signs in African American Cemeteries, Homes, and Churches,” McWillie will explore the intersections of personal and cultural values in domestic landscapes. She will show that yard decorations found in the American South can be understood in the cultural context of work from West Africa and the Caribbean and will discuss the ways in which these displays convey moral and spiritual meaning.

McWillie has written and lectured for many years on the vernacular art of the South and is coauthor of “No Space Hidden: The Spirit of African American Yard Work,” winner of the 2007 James Mooney Prize for distinguished anthropological scholarship. Her artwork has been exhibited widely and is represented in the collections of the Georgia Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. She holds fine arts degrees from Memphis State University and Ohio State University.

The next “New Perspectives” lecture will be Feb. 26 when Georgine Clarke, Alabama State Council on the Arts, will present “Road Trip: Touring Public Art of Alabama.”

“New Perspectives” is sponsored by the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is cosponsored by the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, the AU Art Department and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Auburn University. For more information, call the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities at (334) 844-4946 or go to .

Contact: Betsy Panhorst, (334) 844-4946 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (