E2C – Norman Girardot presents Howard Finsters Art & Religion
University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion of Lehigh University, Norman Girardot presents the gloriously eccentric and prolific Georgian preacher, visionary outsider artist, and “stranger from another world” Howard Finster in a lavishly illustrated museum talk exploring the “godfather of contemporary American folk and visionary art.” Author of Envisioning Howard Finster: The Religion and Art Of A Stranger From Another World, Norman Girardot is considered the leading researcher and scholar on Finster’s place in the art world, Southern evangelical Protestantism, popular culture and American history.
Howard Finster began preaching as a teenager in the South in the 1930s. But it was not until he received a revelation from God at the age of sixty that he began to make sacred art. A modern-day Noah who saw his art as a religious crusade to save the world before it was too late, Finster worked around the clock, often subsisting on a diet of peanut butter and instant coffee. He spent the last years of his life feverishly creating his environmental artwork called Paradise Garden and what would ultimately number almost fifty thousand works of bad and nasty art. His was visionary work that obsessively combined images and text and featured apocalyptic biblical imagery, flying saucers from outer space, and popular cultural icons such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Mona Lisa, and George Washington. In the 1980s and 90s, Finster developed cult celebrity status, and he appeared in the Venice Biennale and on the Tonight Show. His work graced the album covers of bands such as R.E.M. and Talking Heads. Today Finster is considered the godfather of contemporary American folk and visionary art.