Inner Worlds: The Art of Alpha Andrews

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Simmons Visual Arts Center, Presidents Gallery
Thursday, January 20-Wednesday, March 2

This exhibition highlights many years of work by Georgia-born folk artist Alpha Andrews (1932-).  Andrews is best known for her “memory paintings” – vivid works blending her own memories, dreams, visions and experiences related to life in rural Georgia.  The works on display include memory paintings but also represent different moments from within Andrews’ career, many of which have not been exhibited before.  Alpha Andrews’ whimsical works lay in the space between the real and surreal and inspire a closer look upon every viewing.

Andrews was born in Habersham County, Georgia as the oldest of five children.  Her extended family and rural upbringing has inspired much of her work.  Andrews married young and after the early death of her husband found herself raising five children on her own.  She took on many roles to support her family, including bookkeeping, news correspondence, nursing, hairdressing, and becoming an ordained minister.  She began painting as a hobby in 1983 at the age of 51.  She used Tulip Pearl fabric paint, acrylic, watercolor and marker on paper or canvas. The colors are vivid and she often used accents of gold and glitter paint. 

In 1990, Andrews experienced her first public artistic success with a piece entitled “Cotton Patch”, a memory painting inspired by an early incident in her father’s cotton patch.  The piece was exhibited at the Lyndon House in Athens, Georgia.  After that first exhibition, Andrews’ work became sought after and was included in many gallery exhibitions and permanent collections.

Throughout this exhibition, Andrews’ many different artistic influences may be seen.  Some of the works refer directly to experiences or memories that Andrews had, while others represent dream worlds that may be left up to the viewers’ interpretation.  Religious and cultural influences are a strong thread through the exhibited works – and extraterrestrial life, if you look closely enough. 

We invite you to step into the inner world of Alpha Andrews and allow your own memories and experiences to guide you.

Double click on image to enlarge.



Sam Be Dam
Told by Alpha Andrews

How we met:

It had been a long day of painting in my little studio, which was on the backside of our property.  There was a gas pipeline stretched just nearby. Just as I was turning the key in the lock, there was a blinding flash of light which I thought to be lightning from a thunderstorm.

The rest of what happened was like a dream.  From my pipeline, I saw a large object which looked like a “flying saucer”.  Standing by the rim was a small creature, no bigger than a human toddler.  His skin was shiny blue, almost as black as patent leather.  He seemed to have no need for clothing.

Then to my surprise, I realized that I was telepathically receiving information: “My robot is working to restore my vehicle.  My name is Sam Bedam”.  Which I understood to be Sam Be Dam.

His mission was to bring back specimens of the many wonderful fruit trees and loose gold we did not need.  He needed to restore his planet’s atmosphere.

Soon people started to remind me they needed paintings of “cotton patches”.

I let Sam Be Dam be present in a few of my paintings, for him to look around and observe.  It was as if when he looked around, he was thinking, “Well, I’ll Be Dam!”

I love comical humor and often display it in my work.  Sam became a source of irony and humor as I madly painted prior to my health declining.