Black Ancestors : William Edmondson

Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by cherryblossom, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    William Edmondson (1882? - 1951) was an African-American folk art sculptor. In 1937 Edmondson was the first African-American artist to be given a one-person show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

    William Edmondson was born around 1874 in Davidson County, Tennessee. The exact year of his birth is not certain because of a fire that destroyed the family Bible. He was one of the six children of George and Jane Edmondson. He grew up in Nashville and started working at the age of sixteen. During these years, he worked as a manual laborer, fireman, railroad man at St. Louis Railroad, and hospital janitor at Women’s hospital. He performed these menial jobs for almost twenty five years. He never learned to read or write. He never married and shared the family home with his mother and unmarried sister after his father’s death. Following the deaths of his mother and sister and his retirement from the hospital in 1932, he did some part-time jobs, sold vegetables that he grew in his backyard and lived alone for the rest of his life.

    He became a convert around 1934 and attended United Primitive Church and remained dedicated to his religion. Edmondson entered the world of sculpture by a divine command. He received a vision from God, who told him to start sculpting. He began his career by working on tombstones. He worked exclusively with limestones which were delivered to him by the wrecking companies’ trucks. His work was influenced by the United Primitive Baptist Church ideas. His sculptures are simple and emphatic forms ranging from one to three feet in height. He carved the figures of biblical characters, angels, doves, women, turtles, American eagles, rabbits, horses and other creatures and “miracles”. He sold his sculptures along with selling vegetables. He also frequently provided tombstones for members of Nashville’s Afro-American Community.

    About five years later, his art was recognized by Sidney Hirsch, Alfred and Elizabeth Starr, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Dahl-Wolfe was a photographer working for Harper’s Bazaar Magazine. She brought Edmondson’s sculptures to the attention of Alfred Barr, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They expressed interest in his work and Edmondson was accorded a one-man show at that Museum in 1937...

    continued here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Edmondson
     
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    WILLIAM EDMONDSON: THE HAND AND THE SPIRIT
    Through August 7, 2011

    William Edmondson (1874-1951), the son of freed slaves, was born in rural Davidson County and moved to Nashville by 1890. Working first at the railroad and then as a janitor at the Nashville Woman's Hospital, he lived at 1434 Fourteenth Avenue South surrounded by family and a vibrant community. At the age of 57, Edmondson began working with limestone using a hammer and a railroad spike. "I was out in the driveway with some old pieces of stone when I heard a voice telling me to pick up my tools and start to work on a tombstone. I looked up in the sky and right there in the noon day light He hung a tombstone out for me to make," he explained.

    Edmondson carved for 17 years. He said, "I am just doing the Lord's work. I ain't got much style; God don't want much style, but He gives wisdom and sends you along."

    continued here: http://www.cheekwood.org/Art/William_Edmondson.aspx
     
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