who worked between 1988 and 1997, is recognized as an important carver of animal forms. Using basswood, Barker created his work with a combination of themeticulous attention to detail of a machinist and an original sense of form, both unified by his unique artistic vision. He worked for thirty years in a northern Indiana steelmill as a maintenance technician. When he retired in the late 1980s, he moved to Isonville, Kentucky, where he preached at a local church. He was encouraged tocarve by artist, neighbor, and friend Minnie Adkins (1934–), and his work was immediately recognized as exceptional. Barker’s cats, cows, dogs, giraffes, pigs,roosters, squirrels, and other animals are highly refined, both in their elegant forms and in the soft treatment of their surfaces. His figures of pigs, for instance, with their large rolls of fat, have legs that taper downward to small, delicate feet. The absence of carved eyes further underscores the ambiguity of these graceful forms. Barker’swork is essentially unpainted, but the painted-on eyes of some pieces were added at the suggestion of an art dealer. The artist abruptly stopped carving when his wifedied, in 1997. He was confined to a nursing home in 1999.
Minnie Adkins; Sculpture, Folk
Outsider Art of the South
. Atglen, Pa., 1999Yelen, Alice Rae.
Passionate Visions of the American South: SelfTaught Artists from 1940 to the Present.
New Orleans, La., 1993