Bradley “Sandman” Holley
The 7th of 27 children, Lonnie Holley was
born in Birmingham, Alabama on February 10, 1950. Spending
much of his early years in foster homes he left school in
the seventh grade and ran away to New Orleans. He was adopted
by his natural grandmother at age 14. Holley spent several
years drifting around the South working usually as a short
order cook but eventually settled in his hometown of Birmingham.
Holley lost two nieces in a house fire in 1979 plunging him
into a period of suicidal depression. Fortunately, he decided
to do something constructive with his grief and since his
family could not afford headstones for the children, he set
out to make them himself. Assembling discarded sandstone molds
and pipe fittings, Holley created his first works of art and
soon began to create an “environment” of found
materials in his yard as well as carvings of sandstone. By
1981 Holley’s highly spiritual and ancestral African
figures had captured the interest of the director of the Birmingham
Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution which included
him in the exhibition “More Than Land and Sky: Art From
Appalachia” at the Museum of American Art in Washington.
Over the last twenty years Holley has taken
his art from humble beginnings meant to ease his pain to lofty
spiritual and philosophical carvings, assemblages and paintings
which have elevated him to his current position as a major
national folk artist.
Birmingham Museum of Art
Cultural Olympiad 1996 Olympics, Atlanta, Georgia
Exhibited White House Gardens, Washington, D.C.
page is informational only and shows examples of
done by the artist
on any image below to enlarge: