Oil with shellac, carpet tacks on board.
35″ x 41.75″
“One day when I let God out of the box I built, he danced with me.”
Born in Chicago, Hemmerling migrated to Ponchatoula, Louisiana, a small town near New Orleans and his mother’s home town. He lived there for nearly thirty years. In 2002 he was laid off from work at Sears and lived the life of a reclusive pauper in a shack in the sticks of Tangipahoa Parish. An untrained artist, never having an art lesson in his life, Hemmerling nevertheless took on sophisticated subject matter and materials. On his walks along the railroad tracks Hemmerling was constantly searching for “found” objects such as recycled house paint and scrap wood.
There is an element of fantasy in much of his work. He often painted in the early morning hours inspired by the fleeting memory of a night’s dream, producing paintings of portraits of rural African American rituals and religion at the rate of one a day, sometimes faster.
Hemmerling often claimed to have undergone a spiritual awakening while drinking coffee next to a man he said looked like Jesus at the Café du Monde in the Vieux Carré.