Garland Adkins


was a carver and painter of animals from the mid—1980s until shortly before his death in 1997. Adkins married Minnie Wooldridge in 1952, and the couple livedmainly in Ohio until returning to their home community of Isonville, Kentucky, in the early 1980s. Garland then began his work as an artist by helping his wife produceher pieces. Typically, he would do the initial work of obtaining, selecting, and preparing a suitable piece of wood, then marking it and sawing out the rough form of a piece with a chainsaw and other power tools. He would then give it to Minnie to carve. He was quick to assert that he participated primarily because this was theAdkins family’s source of income, and he regarded Minnie’s carvings not as works of art but as objects made for sale. Regardless of who spent more time working ona piece, most of the Adkinses’ carvings produced between 1986 and 1997 were presented as collaborations, marked with their combined signature, “G & M Adkins.”Garland’s participation was a key factor in the Adkins’s family cottage industry, but he and Minnie both produced pieces that quite clearly bore the marks of their separate, individual styles.Garland’s personal repertoire was much narrower than Minnie’s, consisting almost entirely of the abstracted, standing horses for which he became best known in hisown right, about 1990. In 1987 he sold a foot-high unpainted wooden horse to Morehead State University, and in 1988 he granted permission for the silhouette of this piece to be used as the basis for the organizational logo of the Folk Art Collection at the university. Adkins continued to develop and refine this form, retaining its legs,which lack detail, and its rectangular head, but further elongating the extended neck. Over the next ten years he produced many versions of this horse, either in plainwood or painted black all over. The standing horse came in two basic versions: one upright and alert, with its straight neck raised diagonally forward from theshoulders, and the other relaxed, with its neck curved gracefully forward and downward, and its head close to the ground, as if grazing.Adkins earned a significant place in twentieth century American folk art, not because his work exemplifies regional woodcarving traditions, but because the austere power of his horse form transcends identification, whether by geographic location, culture, or period in time.
See also
Minnie Adkins; Sculpture, Folk
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