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William Edmondson
Date: American, ca.1870 - 1951
Biography: William Edmondson, son of Tennessee slaves, did not consider himself an artist when he began carving around 1932, after retiring from his job as a laborer. Inspired by a vision, he emphasized his divine calling, claiming, "Jesus has planted the seed of carving in me" and describing his works as "mirkels." Edmondson carved gravestones, free-standing figurative sculpture, and garden ornaments, using discarded blocks of limestone and chisels fashioned from railroad spikes. Animals, biblical subjects, and secular figures like Eleanor Roosevelt and Nashville school teachers dominated his repertoire. Lynda Roscoe Hartigan African-American Art: 19th and 20th-Century Selections (brochure. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art). From Smithsonian American Art Museum web site