Stick Men: Savannah Folk Art Canes and Wood Sculpture


Top clockwise: Arthur Dilbert; Cane with Leopard and Alligator; 1998.9. John Hall; Cane with Eagle’s Head; 1999.4.2. Willis Jones; Cane with Chain and Spiral Motifs; Collection of Virginia and John Duncan). Vernon Edwards; Large Rattlesnake; 1997.16.2.
Top clockwise: Arthur Dilbert; Cane with Leopard and Alligator; 1998.9. John Hall; Cane with Eagle’s Head; 1999.4.2. Willis Jones; Cane with Chain and Spiral Motifs; Collection of Virginia and John Duncan). Vernon Edwards; Large Rattlesnake; 1997.16.2.

Join Friends of African American Art for a lecture presented on African American Folk Art in Telfair’s Permanent Collection on Thursday, August 11, 6pm at the Jebson. The lecture is free to FAAA and Telfair members. Senior Curator of Education Harry DeLorme will provide an overview of works by self-taught artists from Telfair’s permanent collection including the woodcarvings on view in the exhibition Stick Men.

Since the early 20th century, woodcarvings and carved walking sticks were noted in writings andphoto- graphs about the Savannah area. For example, walking sticks by African American woodcarvers in Savannah and Southeast Georgia were featured in the WPA-funded Georgia Writers Project publication Drums and Shadows in 1940. Sometimes discussed in terms of a lingering African aesthetic in the traditional arts of the American South, these works were explored by scholars and later featured in exhibits in the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1983, an exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington brought national acclaim to Savannah woodcarver Ulysses Davis. Although he is better known for his carved wooden portrait busts and fantastic creatures than his walking sticks, Davis’s example inspired other men in Savannah and South Georgia to take up the art form.

Although some of these artists are now deceased, their work and the works of others point to a strong tradition of carving and creating “personal sculpture”—a tradition still alive in Savannah today. Largely drawn from Telfair’s permanent collection of folk art, Stick Men celebrates this rich artistic heritage in a focused exhibition. For more information conttact www.telfair.org


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