BESSIE HARVEY

BESSIE HARVEY
1929-1994 | AMERICA

Caras de África, 1994 © American Folk Art Museum
Caras de África, 1994 © American Folk Art Museum

Bessie Harvey was a visionary artist who flourished primarily in Alcoa, Tenesse, during 1979-1994. Born in Dallas, Georgia, Harvey was the seventh of thirteen children and she experienced  a very difficult childhood. Drawing strength from her mother’s strong Christian faith, she also fond comfort in her own ability to create works using ordinary objects and expressing her vivid imagination. Inspired by her natural surroundings and finding a friend in nature, she felt particularly drawn to trees and felt she could communicate with them. Harvey fashioned figural sculptures from roots, branches and tree stumps culled from her surroundings, adding materials to these evoke what she perceived to be the spirit lying within a piece. Her earlier works were usually Biblical or African figures, adorned with paint and decorations, whilst her later, larger, multi-figural works were a unique amalgamation of Southern, fire-and-brimstone Christianity, Afro-Atlantic alchemy, and her highly personal vision.

Bessie Harvey è stata un’artista visionaria vissuta soprattutto in Alcoa, Tenesse dal 1979 al 1994. Nata a Dallas, Georgia, Harvey era la settima di tredici figli e visse un’infanzia difficile. Traendo forza dalle fede cristiana della madre, incominciò a creare opere con oggetti comuni che liberarono la sua fervida immaginazione.  Ispirata dall’ambiente in cui viveva, trovò un’amico nella natura, in special modo gli alberi, elementi con i quali si sentiva di poter comunicare. Harvey creò sculture figurative proprio con radici, rami e tronchi di alberi abbattuti, aggiungendo materiali che rimandavano allo spirito del pezzo stesso. Le sue prime opere erano di solito figure bibliche o africane, ornate con vernice e derivazioni. Successivamente le sue figure si ingrandirono, divenendo opere multiple e fondendo diversi spunti, dall’alchimia afro-atlantica, il cristianesimo, il fuoco la sua visione personale. 

Without a song, u.d. © Souls Grown Deep
Without a song, u.d. © Souls Grown Deep
The tribal man, 1987 © Souls Grown Deep
The tribal man, 1987 © Souls Grown Deep

 

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