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Documentary Film “Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts”
Explores Impact of Art from Former Slave

Bill Traylor was born on an Alabama cotton plantation in 1853. After the Civil War ended his servitude, he continued working as a sharecropper for the family that once owned him until the late 1920s. Aging and alone, he moved to Montgomery working odd jobs until, in his 80s, he was unable to hold a job and became homeless.


Instead of disappearing from the historical record, Traylor began to draw and paint using whatever materials he could find. Through his artwork, Traylor created a new, personal visual language to record the stories of his life and the community around him through color and composition evocative of jazz and blues music. Today, Bill Traylor is considered by many in the international art world as a significant contributor to 20th century American art.



















“Since encountering Bill Traylor’s art some 35 years ago,” said Wolf, who directed the film, “I have long contemplated his work, wanting to unravel and dig deeper into his world. Today, Bill Traylor is one of the most celebrated self-taught artists, with one of the most remarkable and unlikely biographies … Bill Traylor did not begin to draw until he was an old man; and when he did, his burst of creativity demonstrated a unique mastery of artistic technique. Without setting out to do so, he became a chronicler of his times.”


This event is made possible through the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, a South Arts program. Since its inception, Southern Circuit has brought the best independent filmmakers and their films from around the country to communities throughout the South. The program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Admission to the movie is free.


Movie showing is Feb. 24th at 7pm at the Goldstein Center of GMC.


Q&A will be held with the filmmaker directly after.




Stay tuned for information about additional films in the Southern Circuit Film Tour:

  • Bill Traylor, Chasing Ghosts

  • Picture Character

  • You Gave Me a Song - The Life and Music of Alice Gerrard