Purvis of Overtown
Ethnography/Biography/Whimsy: Three Contemporary African American Artists, Presented by Edward M. Puchner, FDI Predoctoral Fellow
Friday, March 9, 2012
(2006, dir. David Raccuglia and Shaun Conrad)
Working within Miami's historic Overtown neighborhood, the artist Purvis Young (1943-2010) nurtured a painting career that was at once sacred and destructive, passionate and overwhelming, historic and ephemeral. Young began his artistic career in the 1960s, as the neighborhood of Overtown was torn apart by urban development and slid into decline around him. Advocating for its restoration, the artist created public murals, covering abandoned buildings with his expressionist paintings along an area known as "Goodbread Alley." Fashioned from found boards and inspired by the mural movements of Chicago and Detroit, Young's art quickly became synonymous with community activism. Eventually facing opposition from the city and the neighborhood, Young nevertheless became highly acclaimed, at once praised for his style by the art world and marginalized for his 'self-taught' identity within it.