Hawkins Bolden was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He was part Creole and part American Indian. At age seven, Bolden suffered a severe blow to the head from a baseball accident that resulted in the loss of his eyesight, which he never regained. Despite this disability, he made visual/tactile art for most of his life. Using broken furniture, carpet scraps, discarded kitchenware, old clothing and other castoffs that he came across during his rounds as a gardener and clean-up man in urban Memphis, Tennessee, he constructed the scarecrows, guardian figures, abstract assemblages, and wind-activated noise-making devices that he originally made to display in his yard. "I made eyes on them," he said of his untitled figural constructions.
"I make them so they can see good: two eyes here, and one way up on top of the head. The third eye sees a whole lot, you know." - Hawkins Bolden