Encyclopedia of American Folk Art

By Lee Kogan; Gerard C.Wertkin | Go to book overview

Craven, Wayne. Two Hundred Years of American Sculpture. New York, 1976.
Kimball, Fiske. Mr. Samuel McIntire, Carver: The Architect of Salem. Magnolia, Mass., 1966.


MCKENZIE, CARL (1905-1998),

who practiced traditional whittling for many years, became one of the best-known self-taught Kentucky artists of the twentieth century. His importance lies in his vivid imagery and his range of subjects, which bridged traditional and contemporary concerns. Born and raised near Campton, Kentucky, McKenzie worked in the Kentucky coalfields, and later drove a lumber truck until retiring in 1970. For years, he carved traditional whimsies, most of which he gave away, but his subject matter broadened after 1970, when his carvings became sought-after and were included in exhibits of regional folk art. By the mid-1980s, McKenzie was known nationally for his carvings portraying biblical stories in complex assemblages, including the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, and the Devil Family. He also carved figures from legend and life; simple, cut-out birds; and an extensive series of human figures with similar faces whose identity relates to their work: a nurse, a housecleaner, a hunter, a musician, and a topless waitress are part of this series of works. McKenzie used felt-tipped markers to decorate his early figures; on his later works he generously applied brightly colored gloss paints that often ran together.

See also Religious Folk Art; Sculpture, Folk.

Hayes, Jeffrey R. The Art of Carl McKenzie. Milwaukee, Wisc., 1994.
Yelen, Alice Rae. Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present. New Orleans, La., 1993.



carved an extraordinary collection of outsized animals and human figures during the late 1920s and early 1930s. To the delight of his neighbors, he exhibited his creations in his modest house in the mill village of Balfour, south of Asheville, North Carolina. Later he took them on the road in the back of a pickup truck and also displayed them in a tent on the main highway. His daughter, Lelia McKillop, recalled that people would stare at them and ask, "Are they alive?"

Woodcarving is a common pastime, but few men ever matched McKillop's vision and intensity. Working with several black walnut trees donated by a neighbor, he sawed and chiseled out a wide-ranging menagerie that included eagles, a rhinoceros, a gorilla, a kangaroo, an owl, a lion, a bear, a cougar, a frog, a turtle, a squirrel, and even a seven-headed, ten-horned dragon inspired by the biblical Book of Revelation. What distinguishes McKillop's carvings are their enormous size, careful finishing, and expressive qualities. Many stand two feet high; the rhinoceros is five feet long and contains a record player in its belly. As its red tongue slid back and forth, it would announce to all assembled, "E.A. McKillop, a born, carving man." Clearly, McKillop had a talent for self-dramatization and regarded his carvings as a unified collection.

McKillop also created at least five human figures ranging from two to four feet high, including a fiddler, a man holding an eagle aloft, and a man with a rifle standing beside an eagle, with a shield and "LIBERTY" carved into the base. These works emphasize the importance of music and patriotism to McKillop. The two remaining figures, however, are enigmatic. Two naked, demonic-looking men stand clutching the head of a thick, fanged rattlesnake that encircles their bodies. Whatever personal or religious significance these gaunt, grimacing men held for McKillop is now lost.

By all accounts, McKillop was a dreamy, eccentric man who thought nothing of devoting years to hewing out his walnut blocks. Variously a farmer, cooper, logger, mill mechanic, and blacksmith, he was a true jack-of-all-trades who could make nearly anything he wanted (including musical instruments, walking sticks, toys, decorative clock cases, furniture, kitchen implements, and plows). Sometime during the late 1930s he apparently tired of his collection, bartering it away for a small farm, where he quietly spent his remaining years.

See also Canes; Musical Instruments; Toys, Folk; Sculpture, Folk.

Johnston, Pat H. "E.A. McKillop and His Fabulous Woodcarvings." The Antiques Journal, vol. 33, no. 11 (November 1978): 16-18, 48.
Parker, Cherry. "The Eerie Art of E.A. McKillop." Tar Heel: The Magazine of North Carolina, vol. 8, no. 6 (August 1980): 20-22.
Zug, Charles G., III. "E.A. McKillop: 'A Born Carving Man.'" May We All Remember Well: A Journal of the History & Cultures of Western North Carolina, vol. 1 (1997): 36-49.


MCKISSACK, JEFF (1902-1980)

created The Orange Show, a folk art environment in Houston, Texas. The


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Encyclopedia of American Folk Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Entries vii
  • Introduction xxvii
  • A 1
  • B 35
  • Bibliography 75
  • C 79
  • Bibliography 107
  • Bibliography 111
  • D 113
  • Bibliography 144
  • E 145
  • Bibliography 153
  • F 161
  • Bibliography 166
  • Bibliography 171
  • G 189
  • Bibliography 203
  • Bibliography 210
  • H 217
  • Bibliography 225
  • Bibliography 235
  • I 247
  • Bibliography 249
  • J 251
  • K 269
  • Bibliography 273
  • L 279
  • M 293
  • Bibliography 309
  • Bibliography 311
  • N 337
  • O 349
  • P 355
  • Bibliography 388
  • Q 411
  • R 421
  • Bibliography 433
  • S 447
  • Bibliography 450
  • Bibliography 472
  • Bibliography 484
  • Bibliography 490
  • Bibliography 494
  • Bibliography 496
  • T 509
  • U 527
  • V 529
  • W 539
  • Bibliography 540
  • Bibliography 546
  • Bibliography 556
  • Y 561
  • Index 569


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