Joe Minter (b. 1943)
African Village In America
Art Type or Medium: Environment/Installation; Sculpture; Signage; Yard Art
Secular or Religious: Secular with Religious aspects
In the lot next to his house overlooking Shadowlawn Memorial Gardens, a historically black cemetery containing the remains of slaves, Joe Minter has assembled an “African Village in America” out of found materials. Upside-down crutch-spears, anthropomorphic figures and faces, slave ships, and re-creations of locations and milestones in Civil Rights history populate the village. Concrete molded Dobermans guard a sculptural recreation of MLK’s Birmingham jail cell, a melee of toy soldiers, vehicles, and children spill off the Edmund Pettus Bridge, four seated skeletal-like wire faces represent the young woman murdered in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Always in flux with current events, Minter has responded to more recent events such as 911, Hurricane Sandy, and the choking death of Eric Garner. A display of colorful school children’s backpacks and 26 empty shoes recalls the Sandy Hook massacre. It seems Joe can’t simply absorb and let tragic news pass without creating a sculptural memorial to the victims.
New York Times: “one of the last great ‘yard shows’ in Alabama”