was among the many African Americans who headed north during the Great Migration when he moved from rural Elloree, South Carolina, to Washington, D.C., in 1928. After serving overseas in a segregated United States Army unit between 1942 and 1945, Hampton returned to Washington, where he worked as a janitor for the General Services Administration until his death.
A mild-mannered bachelor with little formal education, Hampton also had a strong desire, as a fundamentalist Baptist, to counsel others about personal salvation in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. He began recording visions from God in 1931, and by 1950 he had dedicated himself to building The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly in a rented garage not far from his modest boardinghouse. Hampton described his project as a monument to Jesus in Washington, the city of monuments, and hoped to develop a storefront ministry, a goal he did not live to realize. Nonetheless, in 1976 art critic Robert Hughes of Time magazine wrote that The Throne "may well be the finest work of visionary religious art produced by an American."
Hampton built 180 objects from furniture, card-board, paper, light bulbs, and metallic foils scavenged from secondhand stores, the street, and government buildings in which he worked. He arranged the objects on and in front of a platform in the garage to suggest a stage or an altar. The shimmering, symmetrical arrangement has a central core comprised of a throne chair, pulpit, and altar table. Pairs of matching objects-themselves reminiscent of church furniture-flank this core.
Describing himself as "Director, Special Projects, for the State of Eternity," Hampton drew inspiration from the Book of Revelation, which concentrates on the Second Coming of Christ. His sense of prophetic mission also yielded an undecipherable script that he recorded on his constructions and in a small volume, The Book of the 7 Dispensation of St. James. Efforts to save Hampton's work after his death culminated in its donation to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., in 1970. The museum has prominently displayed The Throne of the Third Heaven and has also lent it to other exhibitions.
See also African American Folk Art (Vernacular Art); Environments, Folk; Religious Folk Art; Visionary Art.
LYNDA ROSCOE HARTIGAN
was a painter who revered nature. He was born to William and Mary Ann Lee Harley of Fremont, Ohio. The family moved to Scottville, Michigan, in Harley's boyhood, and it was there that the artist's lifelong love of the outdoors began. Although he inherited a dairy farm as a young man, Harley took no interest in its operation, preferring to roam in the woods while a caretaker tended his cows. His interest in wildlife inspired him to study taxidermy, and he preserved carcasses for both pleasure and income.
In the 1880s or 1890s, Harley took a correspondence course in drawing and drafting and began to paint. By the early 1920s, financial problems, alcoholism, and involvement with the caretaker's wife prompted Harley to leave Michigan for the Pacific Northwest, where he visited Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska. The area's magnificent scenery inspired Harley to take several photographs, but, according to tradition, he was disappointed with the results, and tried oil painting as an alternative means of recording his impressions.
When Harley returned to Scottville in the early 1930s, he brought with him the three landscapes on which his fame rests today: Upper Reaches of the Wind River (painted near Carson, Washington), Wallowa Lake, and South End of Hood River Valley (both of the latter painted in Oregon). All of these paintings incorporate vistas of great depth, yet all are so meticulously detailed that, in some cases, one can count the leaves on the trees. Rich, saturated colors also