First published: Fall 2002
Algiers is a part of New Orleans that most visitors never see. Its small Baptist churches, dangerous looking bars, dilapidated houses and vacant industrial lots are home to some of America’s worst urban poverty and crime, but good people also live honest lives there, in a culture steeped in spirituality and religion.
Algiers is also home to Herbert Singleton, one of America’s acclaimed vernacular artists, whose walking sticks, sculptures and bas-relief panels form part of most major collections of contemporary Southern folk art in the US (and also appear in the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland).
Sitting on his front steps sipping a beer, Singleton eyes the street running past his narrow front yard, and muses on the 60-inch television set inside his barely furnished home: he bought it after hitting the lottery. Talent and will go further than luck in Algiers, and in his front room, pieces of driftwood and scavenged wood planks awaiting revelations from his chisels and mallet are the raw materials of Singleton’s most reliable angle on survival.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #40