Folk Art In Alabama: Where is it hidden?

Birmingham houses intruiging pieces of history and folk art is one of its hidden gems.

By Alexis Long-Daniels
Contributing Writer 

BIRMINGHAM, AL–In the nooks and crannies of cities you can find some of the most incredible things. Birmingham is a city with treasures, including folk art created by local and national artists.

Folk Art is defined on as the creative expression of the human struggle toward civilization within a particular environment. In today’s time people may consider folk art using broader terms, meaning art created by arbitrary items with a story behind it.

The Naked Art Gallery on 3831 Clairmont Ave. and the Birmingham Museum of Art at 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Boulevard house some of the most interesting folk art in town.

Tina Kirk , an artist from Jefferson County, and Elayne Goodman, a self-taught artist from Mississippi, are both popular artists in the Naked Art Gallery. Goodman has a piece toward the front of the gallery called the coke bottle table.

Goodman’s biography says that during her childhood she had limited access to craft materials, so she used whatever she could find around her to make art. This red and white painted table with all different coke bottle tops could represent a memory from when she was younger. That’s exactly what folk art is meant to do, tell a story with unique materials around you.

Meanwhile, Kirk started painting seven years ago when her mother passed away. She tells stories of different women using their facial expressions and body language. She has a piece in the gallery that was done on a 3-way folding board. It pictures two women.

One woman has the word hope painted above her head. She seems weary, wearing only dark colors. Her green eyes are sunken. She’s stares toward the world ahead, looking to the future for a better life.

The other woman has the word love painted above her head. She is wears a bright pink dress wit blue and yellow flowers. Her head is tilted to the side. She looks as if she’s staring at someone she deeply admires.

“When people come in to shop, everybody is in a good mood,” said Kristie Dabid, an employee and artist at the gallery. “The art makes people laugh.”

This is something Dabid said loves about working at the gallery.

At the Birmingham Museum of Art, a newly refurbished African exhibit is being featured. While the museum itself may not be hidden, there are many hidden gems inside.

Robert Fisher visited the African Art exhibit one recent Saturday.

“The craftsmanship, how did they carve this stuff without breaking it, the different meanings in it,” were all things he wanted to find out about the art while visiting the museum.

Leslie Jackson, who visited the museum, said that the pieces in their house dealt with their heritage, which is African-American culture.

“I think its being familiar with the culture, something we can readily identify with, so we like to have those type pieces in our home,” Jackson said.

“You can’t buy these pieces in a store,” he said. The historical value of the pieces is what holds his interest in the exhibit, he said.


Folk Art tells a story, arousing  the thoughts of the viewer and reminding them of their history. It even makes them question the history of the artist. Birmingham is seen as a historical landmark for many people across the country full of antiquity and untold tales. By finding these places with unique and treasured art, it seems that there are still more stories to be told.