Hawkins Bolden (1914-2005) was from Memphis, Tennessee. We met him in the mid-1990's. We had seen his jaw-dropping piece in the Passionate Vision's art show at New Orleans Museum of Art and knew we had to meet the maker. The exhibit was a beautiful well represented exhibition of Self-Taught Artwork, most of whom we recognized and in the middle was a pair of stuffed pants sitting in a chair with bucket with holes in it as a head of sorts.
We went to meet Hawkins to talk to him about his piece that moved us and ended up becoming friends with he and his amazing story-telling sassy sister, Elizabeth. Hawkins was in his 80's when we met him and he had been blind since the age of 7. They were both so sweet and welcoming to us.
Hawkins primarily used buckets, hubcaps, tin cans, and assorted metal to make figures. He called them scarecrows with his only purpose of "scaring off the birds." He started with smoothing the metal with glass, then drilling into the metal he created holes which would be manipulated and opened with various tools he made and railroad ties. The holes represented eyes. Then he added tongues made from rubber hose, shoes, carpet or such to create a figure.
The pieces were primarily displayed in his yard to keep the birds away from his garden of tomatoes and peppers, but there was always something more to Hawkins and his work. Something beautifully haunting and mysterious that went beyond words.