A self-taught artist's work that vibrantly praises God
Discovering the art of Eddie Lee Kendrick
was, as Ruth Kaplan recalls, "like walking into another world."
In 1977, Kaplan, an administrator at an
elementary school in Little Rock, Arkansas, walked into the school janitor's
supply closet and found its walls hung with bright, lively paintings and
drawings of Jesus, of angels, and of people in prayer and ecstasy, all
created on corrugated cardboard.
It was a world lit by the spiritually-infused
art of Eddie Lee Kendrick, an African American self-taught artist whose
work is now gathered in A Spiritual Journey: The Art of Eddie Lee Kendrick,
containing sixty-five full color examples of Kendrick's artistry.
Community was central to Kendrick, especially
the community of church, home, and work. Alice Rae Yelen says, "Kendrick's
paintings--his personal communications in praise of the Lord--were influenced
most strongly, according to the artist, by scriptures, singing, music,
praying, and dreams."
Also provided is an insightful description
of Kendrick's technique, a brief biography of his life, and an informed
discussion of how Kendrick's art relates to the world of self-taught artists
in the South.
Eddie Lee Kendrick, born in Stephens, Arkansas, in 1928, worked in
sawmills, in elementary schools, in a Holiday Inn, and in a meat-packing
plant. Like many self-taught artists, he did not rely on his art for his
living. He was an ardent gospel singer and church choir member. He died
of cancer in 1992.
Alice Rae Yelen is assistant to the director of the New Orleans Museum