Howard Finster


What Can We Put Back in the Earth?
Paint on board with custom frame
19.5″ x 24.75″

Howard Finster
One of 13 children, Howard Finster was born at Valley Head, Alabama. He said he had his first vision at age 3, when an image of his deceased sister Abbie Rose told him he was going to be a man of vision. The Reverend Howard Finster was an obsessively-evangelical preacher, who also practiced other skills like plumbing, bike-repair and carpentry. His artworks are visual sermons, an extension of his evangelical quest. In 1976, inspired by a visionary experience, he abandoned all other work and began to paint strongly-composed paintings using enamel on wood, burlap and metal. Combining images and words to illustrate Biblical texts, each painting is a sermon in its own right, trumpeting the message of the Lord through art. Finster’s art became more complex, his flat graphic imagery accompanied by more detailed intricate elements, as well as his signature evangelical text. His subjects also became increasingly diverse. His later paintings contain references to UFOs, Elvis Presley, war and politics, as well as countless Biblical evocations. Finster worked at an accelerated pace, producing thousands of works each carefully numbered; from the most complex of visionary paintings and painted objects to small, flat, wooden figures that were made with his family’s help using templates before being painted. He created one of the most famous folk art environments in the world, the 2 ½ acre Paradise Garden, 90 miles southwest of Atlanta.