Monday, November 5, 2012

Self-Taught Southern Artist Dilmus Hall 1900-1987

Dilmus Hall (American Self Taught artist, 1900-1987) Concrete Sculpture of a Lamb

"An artist don't tell nobody the foundation of his being, because he may be jeopardized and the finger of scorn could be pointed at him if he makes a blunder of it. So an artist is out of his mind to explain the distance that he travels in his way - he don't do that - he couldn't be a real artist" - Dilmus Hall

Dilmus Hall (American Self Taught artist, 1900-1987) Man and Bear

Dilmus Hall was one of 13 children in a farming & blacksmithing family in rural Georgia. As a child, he sculpted animals from clay & from flour mixed with pine pitch bled from trees on his parents' land. Hall's father disapproved of his son's artistic interests, as they were impractical for contributing to the family's economic needs.

Dilmus Hall (American Self Taught artist, 1900-1987) Concrete Sculpture of a Dog with Blue Eyes

Hall eventually left the farm to work in a coal mine. During WWI, he joined the United States Army Medical Corps serving in Europe as a stretcher-bearer. His exposure to European arts had tremendous impact on Hall who vowed to contribute to an artistic heritage of his own. Upon his return to Athens, Georgia, Hall's European experience melded with his familiarity with African American imagery, & his personal iconographic body of pencil drawings, paintings, & sculptures ensued.

Dilmus Hall (American Self Taught artist, 1900-1987) Crucifixion with Centurian

To support himself, he worked as a hotel bell captain & waiter; a sorority house busboy on the University of Georgia campus; & as a fabricator of concrete blocks, which resulted in a series of concrete sculptures. His art revealed an inherent belief in the spiritual nature of objects & their protective powers.

Dilmus Hall (American Self Taught artist, 1900-1987) Concrete Sculpture of a Man

His work & his home environment were evolving examples of African American conjuring culture, with its mix of Christianity & of African traditions of empowering objects. Dilmus Hall believed he had a God-given creative talent all his life. He lived the belief that today's good work would "testify to the goodness of life after you're gone, yes."