The Personality and Politics of Artist Fred Carter

More than two decades after his death, Clintwood visual artist Fred Jerome Carter is finally getting some much-deserved recognition in the art world. Carter was a prolific self-taught painter and wood sculptor who operated the Cumberland Museum in Clintwood, Va., where he displayed cultural artifacts from the region as well as his own artwork. A 2013 major exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and a 2017 show at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon are the latest evidence of the lasting importance of Carter’s work. This presentation will give a biographical sketch of Carter, from his birth in Duffield, Va., in 1911 to his death in Clintwood in 1992. Drawing from personal recollections, published articles and an unpublished manuscript by the artist himself, I will discuss some of the events that shaped this Appalachian visionary artist and gave him his progressive political stance and compassionate view of the world. The story of Carter’s life and work can inspire anyone who has a passion (which he called “drivenness”) to succeed in his or her chosen field. My proposed paper is intended as a companion presentation to one by Jack Wright, who will discuss Carter’s works of art. It is requested that these be scheduled during the same session.