We tell ourselves stories in order to live... We live entirely by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria - which is our actual experience.
-Joan Didion
The American South is an ever-shifting meeting ground of stories and ideas: histories buried and exhumed; ballads sung, and prayers raised. To be of the South is to be at the center of a landscape accustomed to projection and commodification, often mythologized or reduced to a single narrative. The works selected for this exhibition break down the barrier between stereotypes, folklore, and lived experience. From the vantage points of 25 artists across nearly a century, Imaginary Landscapes gives a multifaceted look at the patchwork of the South through the memories, dreams, and stories of those who inhabit it. Observational and empathetic, the works create a new map of the territory, a map whose borders shift and move through time. This is a show about the stories we tell ourselves, the ways we gather the contradictions of our identities and claim them as our own.
With thanks to the artists; The Johnson Collection (Spartanburg, SC); Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (Asheville, NC); Blue Spiral 1 and Tracey Morgan Galleries (Asheville, NC); and Bevan Schiffli (Natural Selections, Highlands, NC).
About the Curator
Kate Averett Anderson is an emerging curator and art historian based in Asheville, NC. Through her work with the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, she has curated numerous exhibitions that spark conversation between historic and contemporary works rooted in identity politics, experimentalism, and multi-disciplinarity.

Image Credit: Robert Gwathmey “Flowers for the Pulpit,” ca. 1959. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Johnson Collection