Preserving the Legacy of Artists from the African American South
Over the last 300 years, a sophisticated system of expression and cultural preservation emerged from the African American South. Souls Grown Deep Foundation advocates for the contributions of these artists in the canon of American art history through collection transfers and exhibitions, education programs and publications. We partnered to advance the foundation’s mission with a website that pays tribute to the cultural traditions, history, heritage, and personal expression of over 160 important American artists.
What happens when we turn the traditional process upside-down?
With most website redesigns, teams nail down much of the information architecture before building the back-end. For Souls Grown Deep, given the depth of expertise needed to organize their collection, we needed to quickly get their team of art historians working on bringing legacy content into a new database. By jumping into content modeling and database and system development first, Souls Grown Deep’s team was able to be more quickly trained to use their CMS, and we produced raw prototypes sooner, letting everyone understand the site’s content structure before design began.
How can we embody a curated museum experience?
It wasn’t until we started working with Souls Grown Deep’s catalog of incredible imagery that strategy and structure truly came to life. Museum-quality photographs of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and assemblages plus engaging portraits gave us all the inspiration needed to tell a compelling story. We gave artists and their work center stage—and got everything else out of the way with a neutral-grey palette that’s stark and lets the artists shine. The result is a powerful, proud brand that advances its mission by honoring a community of artists who bravely expressed their truth through their art.
Information architecture and content strategy work together to share Souls Grown Deep’s story, teach history, provide cultural context, and focus attention on the real heroes—the artists and their incredible work.
How do we increase understanding & exploration of an overlooked period in American art history?
To help Souls Grown Deep preserve the history and cultural legacy of an entire movement, we had to do more than just showcase the artists’ work. We needed to share their stories. Souls Grown Deep’s website deepens understanding of the traditions it stands for by providing an abridged history of the movement and placing its mission within it. For artists and their work, detailed biographies tell each artist’s story and organize their work by medium, providing context for their artistic expression within the movement. New avenues of exploration are then provided with related, relevant artists, collections, presentations, and exhibitions.
Our Client's Experience
“It was enormously gratifying how the Constructive team sought to understand a field of art that historically has been poorly represented. They applied a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities, helped us better communicate the Foundation’s mission and vision, took time to educate us, and were willing to challenge some of our preconceptions. The process was engaging and edifying—and the result more than we could have hoped for.”