Freeman Vines: Hanging Tree Guitars, Virtual Exhibit
December 8, 2020 @ 8:00 am - February 28, 2021 @ 5:00 pm
Hanging Tree Guitars introduces the work of African American luthier and visual artist Freeman Vines. Vines’ sculptures are imbued with an expressive form and symbolic imagery, shaped by hand from repurposed wood sourced from the natural and built landscapes around his home in an eastern North Carolina farming community.
Freeman Vines’ instruments are sculpted from repurposed wood and found materials which are arranged to illuminate the spirit of each object. Among Vines’ most arresting works are a series of guitars carved from sections of a black walnut tree on which an African American man named Oliver Moore was lynched in 1930, an event that marked one of the final documented lynchings in the state of North Carolina. Vines has crafted this wood into potent and haunting objects, reclaiming the trophies of past racial violence and transforming it into guitars and a collection of sculpture.
Images by Timothy Duffy offer a lens on Vines’ person, environment, and art, framing and refracting the psychological impact of the work within the social and historical context of the American South. Transcribed interviews with Vines immerse viewers in the artist’s worldview, exploring themes of memory, racial identity, and spirituality in the rural South.
A companion book, Hanging Tree Guitars by Freeman Vines withZoe Van Buren and photographs by Timothy Duffy is now available at musicmaker.org.
This exhibit was made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.