Herbert Singleton (American/New Orleans, 1945-2007), "Snake Totem", painted carved wood, unsigned, h. 97 3/4 in. Provenance: Barrister's Gallery, New Orleans, LA; Finley Collection. Exh.: "Soul Providers: African-American Art from the Finley Collection Original Paintings & Sculpture by Self-Taught Artists", The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, MS, Jan. 11 - Feb. 22, 2002; "Finley Collection", Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture, Natchez, MS, May 2009 - May 2013; "The John and Pam Finley Collection of African and Folk Art", University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, WY, June 8 - Aug. 17, 2013. Note: Born in New Orleans into poverty, Herbert Singleton began carving walking sticks at age of seventeen to pay debts and support himself. Singleton never used precut wood for his sculptures, instead preferring branches and stumps found along the Mississippi river levee. One such piece is “Snake Totem” offered here, carved from a single large piece of driftwood and painted using bright, simple colors to emphasize the menacing nature of the form. This work also emphasizes one of the inexplicable aspects of Singleton's work, the often similarity with art of the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria of which Singleton had no knowledge.
Ref.: Perry, Regina. “Herbert Singleton”. Knowlouisiana.org Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Sept. 13, 2012. Accessed June 12, 2018.