Fenimore Art Museum

Cooperstown, NY




A Spiritual Journey: The Art of Eddie Lee Kendrick


"A Spiritual Journey: The Art of Eddie Lee Kendrick," an exhibition is on view through December 31, 2000, at Fenimore Art Museum, features approximately 65 examples of work by self-taught artist Eddie Lee Kendrick (1928-1992). The exhibition is organized and circulated by the New Orleans Museum of Art with the cooperation of the Arkansas Art Center. It is curated by Alice Rae Yelen, Assistant to the Director at the Museum of Art. (left: I am the Way -- Come Fly on Me, colored pencil, ball point pen on paper, c. 1992, Courtesy of New Orleans Museum of Art)

Yelen said, "Kendrick found inspiration for his paintings in biblical scripture, gospel song, prayer and dreams. While his images reflect the influence of each of these elements, they also record the visual world which surrounded him in Southwest rural Arkansas, and later in urban Little Rock," continues Yelen.

Kendrick began drawing as a young boy, using brown paper grocery bags and shoe box lids as drawing surfaces. His magnificently colored paintings are made with oil paint, acrylic, colored pencils, pen, and marker. His talent came to light in 1977 at the age of 43, when an arts-in-education teacher at the elementary school where Kendrick was a janitor discovered his paintings in a custodial office.This teacher's assistant, Susan Turner Purvis, first recognized Kendrick's talent and invited him to share it with students in the Little Rock School System. It was Purvis who recommended to Yelen to include Kendrick's paintings in her exhibition of self-taught artists. Thus was Eddie Kendrick's leap into national recognition achieved. Unfortunately, he learned of his inclusion into the exhibition just ten days prior to his death due to cancer. (left: Church of God in Christ, acrylic marker, pen, glitter, glue on fabric, c. 1978, Courtesy of New Orleans Museum of Art)

The artworks in this exhibition have been culled from paintings belonging to teachers, students, and members of Kendrick's community as well as museums. The exhibition is arranged thematically and augmented by text panels and labels which feature the parallel growth of the artist's artistic and spiritual backgrounds. His changing subject matter is interpreted from early images of Christ and man's service to the Church to his later works of spiritually imbued landscapes and architectural structures. (left: A Bed in the Sun, colored pencil, oil, ball point pen on paper, c. 1992, Courtesy of New Orleans Museum of Art; right: God Bless This Place, colored pencil, oil, pen, pencil on paper, c. 1992, Courtesy of New Orleans Museum of Art)

The exhibition is organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art with the cooperation and support of the Arkansas Arts Center. The exhibition, its national tour, and catalogue are sponsored by International Paper Foundation. Additional generous support for the exhibition and catalogue was provided by Dillard's. Educational materials and video are made possible by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

Fenimore Art Museum is the museum showcase of the New York State Historical Association, a private educational organization, which contains an 83,000 volume research library. The library holdings are partially devoted to folk art. The museum is located one mile north of the village of Cooperstown on Lake Road, Route 80. Hours vary by season.

Read more about the Fenimore Art Museum in Resource Library Magazine

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For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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