is a carver in wood who gained national attention as an artist in the late 1980s. She began to carve small animals and birds as a child in Isonville, Kentucky. Generally,she has produced, carved, and assembled sculptures of animals, particularly tigers, bears, foxes, and possums, but she has also created paintings, various assemblages,and ceramic collaborations with her cousin, Tess Little, a sculptor and ceramic artist. For many years, Adkins’ best-known piece was a forked-twig rooster with a red-and-yellow painted comb and beak, and a split tail, but after interest in her work grew through her association with the Folk Art Collection at Morehead StateUniversity, her subject matter expanded to incorporate the human figure, including a series of self-portraits. From the mid-1980s until his death in 1997, her firsthusband, Garland Adkins, helped work on his wife’s larger pieces, procuring the wood, rough-cutting the sculptures, and generally helping with production.Adkins has initiated a cottage industry by selling commercially woven afghans and locally made quilts featuring her animal forms, and offering
The Blue Rooster,
a book and cassette collaboration with musician Mike Norris. Her second husband, Herman Peters, produces painted, welded steel-pipe versions of other animal forms.Adkins remains productive, with a reputation that extends beyond her own work, as a mentor and promoter of other self-taught artists in her own community and beyond. The existence of a network of folk artists based in Kentucky can be attributed largely to her promotion, friendship, and encouragement of others. An annualfolk art fair is held at her home each June.Adkins has received many awards, including the Jane Morton Norton Award from Center College in Danville, Kentucky; the Award for Leadership in Arts andCulture from the Eastern Kentucky Leadership Foundation; the Distinguished Artist Award from the Folk Art Society of America; an Al Smith Fellowship; aGovernor’s Award for the Arts from the Kentucky Arts Council; the Appalachian Treasure Award and an honorary doctorate from Morehead State University.
Garland Adkins; Outsider Art; Sculpture, Folk
Outsider Art of the South.
Atglen, Pa., 1999.Yelen, Alice Rae.
Passionate Visions of the American South.
New Orleans, La., 1993