Hawkins Bolden


has had a lifelong facility for making things by hand from scavenged materials. He and a twin brother were born in the Bailey’s Bottom section of Memphis. WhenBolden was seven, he was struck in the head with a bat while playing baseball. This accident was probably responsible for the seizures he began to suffer soonafterward, as well as for the blindness with which he was suddenly stricken about one year later. He has never regained his eyesight.When he was about sixteen years old, Bolden’s family moved into a small house in Memphis, which he has continued to occupy. In his early fifties, despite his blindness, he began to use his skills to make mask-like faces by puncturing and altering cast-off metal or plastic, and also created other, often anthropomorphic,assemblage pieces. Gathering broken furniture, carpet scraps, discarded kitchenware, old clothing, and other throwaways that he comes across while making the rounds of his neighborhood, Bolden has used these objects to construct the scarecrows, guardian figures, abstract assemblages, and wind-activated,noisemaking devices that he originally made to display in his yard, alongside the border of a vegetable garden. Bolden’s reliance on found materials to produce his art issomething he shares with other artists working in low-income communities throughout the world.
See also
African American Folk Art (Vernacular Art); Environments, Folk; Sculpture, Folk;

Whirligigs; Yard Show
Arnett, Paul, and William Paul Arnett, eds.
Souls Grown Deep: African-American Vernacular Art of the South,
vol. 2. Atlanta, Ga., 2001.McWillie, Judith, et al.
Another Face of the Diamond: Pathways Through the Black Atlantic South.
New York, 1989Patterson, Tom.
Ashe: Improvisation and Recycling in AfricanAmerican Visionary Art.
Winston-Salem, N.C., 1993.Sims, Lowery S., et al.
Next Generation: Southern Black Aesthetic.
Winston-Salem, N.C., 1990