The Alabama Contemporary Arts Center presents With Signs Following, an exhibition debuting new work by musician and folk artist, Abe Partridge, opened to the public on January 13, 2023 and is on view until through May 20th.
Curated by Elizabet Elliott, the exhibition includes new paintings by Partridge, as well as art and ephemera collected on his journey within the communities of Appalachian religious snake-handling.
Abe Partridge is a touring musician and artist from Mobile, AL; fundamentally a storyteller who fuses a heady mix of backwoods baptismal and back alley punk rock.
His background as a baptist preacher who experienced a crisis/conversion of faith allows him to travel roads less traveled. For the last two years Partridge has made regular visits and embedded himself in several communities of Appalachian religious snake-handlers.
After much time spent, he was given permission to document his experiences; the music, rituals, and stories that called to him. This is an exhibition of new work exploring those experiences, made in direct collaboration with this community.
What followed over two years is a body of work that painstakingly documents every person he has met, and every hero (or occasional villain) of lore tied to the specific and small communities surrounding the Appalachian snake-handling religious community.
Dedicated portraits that utilize Abe’s symbolic language (flowers, rainbows, and flames) are bolstered by long-form quotes, oral histories direct from the subject’s mouth or Abe’s account of what he’s been told. The core members of the community who participated, feeding Abe their stories, were given editorial power over what was produced.
Abe uses field recordings, writing, music, found video and painting to rally around the wild and liminal experiences that have changed him in proximity to these people, and to facilitate the community creating their own portrait through him.
With Signs Following is the lens by which you might stand in Abe’s shoes to peer out on a community and a faith, that you might feel what he’s felt – reverence, panic and awe– and that you might know the love and joy of being known in a place that was unknowable to you.
With Signs Following is on view until May 20, 2023 at the The Alabama Contemporary Arts Center located at 301 Conti Street in Mobile, Alabama