James Harold Jennings, Photo by Mike Smith
James Harold Jennings
James Harold Jennings was born on April 20, 1931 in Pinnacle, North Carolina where his family owned a tobacco farm. He attended school though the fifth grade and worked at the family farm, later taking a job as a projectionist at the King Drive in, owned by his stepfather. When his nerves "went bust" in 1968 he stayed at home on the farm to care for his mother until she died in 1974. After her death, Jennings chose to live without electricity, running water or a telephone in order to create artwork which filled his yard. He carved each whirligig, windmill, sign and wood figure with a simple knife, assembling and printing them with house paint. He liked creating animals and birds, but some of his favorite subjects revolve around the strength of women and his pieces feature "tufgh girls" beating up men or the devil. At times when he would lack inspiration, Jennings would close his eyes and press his fingers onto his lids to search for ideas in the splashes of color that would appear. He created most of his pieces in the last ten years of his life, and called himself the "sun, moon and star artist". The yard surrounding his home was full of brightly colored works of art and signs. Jennings spent his later years living alone in a school bus in North Carolina, and his impending fear of the future drove him to suicide on his 69th birthday.
Detail: Untitled, James Harold Jennings