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    Howard Finster, Weaned Child on the Cockatrice's Den 
    Large View


    Howard Finster
    American, 1916–2001
    Weaned Child on the Cockatrice's Den ca. 1979
    Paint on concrete with glass, mirrors, ceramic, white marble, stone, and brick
    Purchase with funds from the Cousins Foundation, Inc., and donors to the Paradise Project Campaign, 1994.216.2.

    Location: Skyway Level, Gallery 415

    Howard Finster:
    Paradise Garden


    Although many people became familiar with the Reverend Howard Finster through his 40,000 late-twentieth-century paintings, the centerpiece of his work was Paradise Garden. He built the outdoor museum to celebrate all the inventions of mankind and dedicated it to the glory of God. His oeuvre is best considered as an installation and performance piece, of which the paintings are the extant artifacts.

    In the early 1960s, Finster bought a parcel of swampy land, which he cleared and drained by hand. For visitors’ enjoyment, he planted edible and ornamental plants and began to construct concrete walkways, walls, and miniature mountains encrusted with thousands of found objects—everything from glass marbles to a jar containing a neighbor’s tonsils.

    Beside the walkways, he modeled figurative concrete sculptures. Over the years, he built many structures, including a tower of bicycle parts and a chapel, the World’s Folk Art Church. Through the 1980s, Paradise Garden flourished, bringing visitors from around the world to Pennville, Georgia, and international fame to its creator, who would preach to visitors and perform his own songs, accompanying himself on his banjo.

    Today the High Museum owns the largest public collection of objects from Paradise Garden, many of which remain on permanent display in the folk art galleries. Among them are sidewalk slabs; concrete sculptures, including The Calf and the Young Lion and The Weaned Child on the Cockatrice’s Den; the Gospel Bike; and many signs and paintings that once adorned the garden.

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