Sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Kappa Delta Omega Chapter Sorority, Sharon and Bob Bushnell, Ashley and Ronnie Fultz, Olivia and Pres Garrett, Harold Jones, Karyna Jones, Susan and John Kellett-Forsyth, Lynwood Artists
To meet Freeman Vines (b. 1942) is to meet America itself. An artist, a luthier, and a spiritual philosopher, Vines’ life is a witness to the truths and contradictions of the American South. He remembers the hidden histories of the eastern North Carolina land on which his family has lived since enslavement. For more than fifty years Vines has transformed materials culled from a forgotten landscape in his relentless pursuit of building a guitar capable of producing a singular tone that has haunted his dreams. From tobacco barns, mule troughs, and radio parts, he has created hand-carved guitars, each instrument seasoned down to the grain by the echoes of its past life.
In 2015, Vines befriended photographer and folklorist, Timothy Duffy (b. 1963) and the two began to document Vines’ guitars and his life story. Soon after, Vines acquired the lumbered boards of the tree on which Oliver Moore was lynched in 1930. Confronting the silences and memories of this dark episode in his local history brought Vines face to face with the toll of racial terror on his own life and work.
In addition to Vines' haunting sculptures, this exhibit also includes a number of tintype photographs by Duffy.
Hanging Tree Guitars is organized by Music Maker Foundation, a non-profit that provides financial grants and assistance to senior and vulnerable artists — those marginalized by age, poverty, race, gender, etc. — because these are the artists least likely to have the resources to share their musical messages with the world. Since 1994, Music Maker has served over 500 musicians whose work spans the entire history of American music.