Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Rev. William Gayle's Crucifixion

The Rev. William Gayle, an African-American minister from Ark, Va., made these powerful, well publicized carvings probably early in the 20th century. They look like hand-forged iron sculptures but in fact are wood painted black. Gayle portrays Jesus as an older black man. The face of the man to the left of Jesus is mask like; he is the penitent thief whose bent right leg is free of restraint. All three are stoic. The carvings have been published in American Vernacular (Frank Maresca, Roger Ricco, 2002) p. 172; Folk Art magazine, winter 1992-93, p. 65; Religious Folk Art in America (C. Kurt Dewhurst, Betty MacDowell, Marsha MacDowell, 1983) p. 126; and A Virginia Sampler, 18th, 19th & 20th Century Folk Art (Ferrum College, the Roanoke Fine Arts Center, 1976). They have been in a private collection in Atlanta for the past six years.

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