BENJAMIN FRANKLIN PERKINS
Born February 6, 1904
Died January 12, 1993
Lived Bankston, Alabama
|One of the biggest regrets I have about my experiences with outsider art is that I started way too late. I knew about this art back in 1983, but it never occured to me that you could actually go and meet these people (at least until 1995). By then, I'd missed out on getting to know some of the great ones, including B.F. Perkins.
I've gotten to know Brother Benjamin a bit, through archived video interviews and through reading about him, and I've always loved his work. B.F. was born in Alabama, but traveled the world as a Merchant Marine, and later as a U.S. Marine. In the late 1960's, he returned to Alabama and began work on building his own church, parts of which still stand today (it's not far from Jimmie Sudduth's house if you'd ever like to take a look).
|B.F. used his paintings both to spread the word of God, and to exhibit some of his own fascinations with the world. His "Cherokee Love Birds" comes from a trip to Cherokee, North Carolina, where he saw two peacocks, and as they looked at each other, B.F. just knew how much they loved one another (there's a certain irony that the most enduring image from a preacher who railed against homosexuality is that of two male birds in love). Other subjects that B.F. painted included his own versions of artifacts found in King Tut's Tomb, and celebrations of his Alabama roots. His "Calendar", pictured above, tells the story of our modern Gregorian calendar and the methods that preceded it.|
I picked up this painting shortly before reading Steven Jay Gould's "Questioning The Millennium", and Brother Benjamin got the history and the math exactly right!
So, (to get back up on my soapbox), I urge you to learn from my bad example. Don't wait around, assuming these artists will always be there. Many of the artists featured in these pages have already stopped creating or passed on. Go see them now while you can.