Forkland Abraham Lincoln Museum

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Guy Ingram Carving

FORKLAND ARTISTS

This year, 2016, the Forkland Heritage Festival and Revue will celebrate its 45th anniversary on October 14-15. The traditions of Forkland (or the “Fork,” as natives sometimes refer to the area where Boyle, Casey, and Marion Counties meet) include arts and crafts created by many people who either live there or who have ties to the area through ancestry or land. Many of these works are displayed and sold each year at the Forkland Festival. Some artists and craftspersons have moved away but still have strong connections to Forkland and credit their experiences on the Fork as influencing their work.


Carving by Guy Ingram

For most of the past forty years, the late Marjory Ellis held art classes for adults during the school year and for children during the summer months. Marjory inspired many people, both young and old, to always keep art as a part of their lives. Her Forkland Community Center art room was a cozy place where everyone felt at home. There was also a mixture of joy and playfulness as the children swarmed onto the playground during breaks from class. Currently, art classes for children and adults are taught at the Community Center by John Gorley and Pat Williams, both former students of Marjory.

Several artists and craftsmen in the Forkland area were self-taught men and women who enjoyed working with their hands. Sometimes they made functional items. At other times, they made pretty things or things that made political statements. Clarence “Peg” Westerfield was a master at weaving chair bottoms and making the wooden tools needed to produce the bark for such work. Alma Ellis developed a use for empty fertilizer bags by wetting the inner lining of the bags and twisting them into ropes to make woven chair seats. Now Louis Ewbank weaves Shaker cloth tapes to make the seats of ladder-back chairs he sells at antique shows.

In an out-of-the-way place like Forkland, people could not just run to town for every little thing they needed, so they would often improvise. Being thrifty and having lived through a depression encouraged the quilters, who could take a bag of rags and some good muslin and soon produce a piece of beauty to grace a bed. Quilts were passed down in families, and at Forkland you will see handmade quilts by local citizens of the community.

Sending us messages about their makers and the past, woodcarvers such as Guy Ingram and Marvin Holt show us vignettes of days gone by and tell stories through their carvings. Sometimes what is important is the wood and where it came from.

Some of the artists whose works are on display in the museum are no longer living, but their works live on and tell us about their lives. The late painters Paul Overstreet and John Stamper were both selected as Bicentennial Heritage Artists, and Robert Rawlings was a painter of primitives who drew on his memory to recall the Gravel Switch and Forkland areas of earlier days. Through Robert's memory, as revealed by his paintings, we can still see how the people in Forkland lived when he was young.

Forkland also has produced performing artists. Jeanne Penn Lane has written hit songs, and her daughter Dawn Osborne has performed some of them at the Forkland Center for the Bean Supper during the Festival.  Also, local Ashley Gorley writes hit songs for Carrie Underwood and other country stars.

The Forkland Community Center Lincoln Museum is open May through October on Saturdays from 12 noon to 4 pm or by appointment (contact Wayne Thurman, phone 859-936-7489).

 

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