Photographs and Memories

Friday, May 14, 2010

The exhibition on Tim Barnwell at the Museum opens tonight! Hands in Harmony: Traditional Crafts and Music in Appalachia, Photographs by Tim Barnwell. It is a special one, classy black and white photographs with oral histories next to each image. Tim spent years photographing some of the icons of this rich region- both in music and craft culture- while also compiling interviews and oral histories on each one. The Museum brings you these in its newest exhibition. OPENING RECEPTION is tonight at 5pm- and it is Free! Come see the show and meet Mr. Tim Barnwell.

To get you excited about it- here is a sneak preview. Tim Barnwell’s photograph of Minnie Adkins, folk artist, and family, is in the show- and here is her wall text. The Museum also has a piece of Minnie’s in their collection- a new acquisition purchased by the Art Nouveax. I have included it also! Enjoy!

Minnie Adkins and family with folk art creations, 2005

Isonville, Elliott County, KY

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve whittled and made stuff. I started out making popguns, whistles, slingshots, stuff like that, to play with when I was little. Back in the early ’70s, I would sell little roosters for fifty cents and a dollar at flea markets. I started making them out of forked sticks, like my slingshots, but I never got to sell ’em, or got recognized, till in the early ’80s. They wasn’t no folk art in Morehead at the time. Adrian Swain had a little pottery shop in town. He was a-doing pottery and a-selling people’s stuff on consignment. He started selling my work. Now he’s curator at the Kentucky Folk Art Center at the university.

When me and Garland first got in it, there wasn’t no market for it. Then we begin to make good at it. Some folks made fun of us, said, “Why, Garland quit working and started whittling.” I just laughed all the way to the bank. Garland bought a new truck and people seen us supporting ourself. They begin wondering what was going on, come to me asking, “If I make something, where could I sell it?” I bought stuff from everybody and encouraged ’em in doing it and, at one time, we had fifteen real good artists around here.

I make all different kinds of little animals, roosters, alligators, foxes, giraffe, cow, sheep and four or five Noah’s arks. The little animals are made from two-by-fours. We saw off a square block, and I’ll sketch out what I’m a-going to make, and saw it out on the band saw. We may use some power tools or a Dremel tool sometimes, but usually we just use pocketknives, drawing knives, and chainsaws. All of it we make out of linnwood. It’s very soft and easy to whittle, and don’t crack much.

When Herman, my second husband, come on the scene, he was a-helping me whittle and said, “Why, anything you can make out of wood, I can make out of iron.” That little iron blue rooster up there is the first one he ever made. When he brought it down, I knowed he was onto something. He’s added an awful lot to what I’m a-doing. When my first husband passed away, I just couldn’t get with it, didn’t think I’d ever do any more. Greg, my grandson, said, “Mamaw, you can’t give it up. Papaw wouldn’t want you to.” He’d encourage me to go on and I appreciate so much the fact that he seen the need to help me keep working. Greg loves doing this. He’s been making stuff about six year, and he’s the one that helps me with the big animals and he’s branched out on his own now till he’s a-doing paintings and stuff, so I’m real proud. It’s more or less become a family project. I’m involving my family because at seventy years old, I know I ain’t gonna always be here, and when I’m gone, I’m hopeful that they will carry on what I started.”

-Minnie Adkins

Images: Tim Barwell exhibition setup; Tim Barnwell, Minnie Adkins and Family, Folk Artist, 2005, black and white silver gelatin print, 14 x 11 inches. Courtesy of the Artist; Minnie Adkins, Possum and Babies, 2005, carved and painted wood, 9.5 x 40 x 4.6 inches. 2009 Art Nouveaux Purchase. Asheville Art Museum Collection. 2010.01.04.32; Detail of Minnie Adkins, Possum and Babies.