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Nurse Wootton on the Toilet

Thursday, 23 July 2015 by

“That’s Miss Wootton. I put her on the pot!” grinned William Edmondson, his eyes twinkling with mischief. The sculptor was speaking with Mimi Cunningham, a former bookkeeper with Women’s Hospital of Tennessee, as they stood outside his backyard workshop and contemplated a limestone figure of a nude woman seated on a pedestal-like bench. He probably

December 30, 1941, seventy three years ago today: Photographer Edward Weston created a portrait of sculptor William Edmondson. Despite a vast gulf of class, race, culture, geography, Weston’s camera captured a moment of wordless communication and understanding between two visionary creators, two artists who shared an astute understanding of form and abstraction, two revealers of beauty and meaning.

Happy Birthday, William Edmondson

Wednesday, 10 December 2014 by

Happy Birthday, William Edmondson! The self-taught limestone sculptor was born in December, 1874, on a farm southwest of Nashville, in what is now the Green Hills neighborhood. We know the year and month from census records, but not the exact date. William’s mother, Jane, bore eleven children, six of whom survived to adulthood. The family Bible, with its birth records, was lost in a fire and, as a result, Edmondson himself didn’t know what year he was born. The common assumption is that William also didn’t know what month and day, but it could be that the newspaper reporters simply didn’t bother to ask.

John Seigenthaler was late for our interview, and I was actually relieved. Standing alone in his spacious, comfortably cluttered office inside the John Seigenthaler Center building just a few weeks ago, I nervously labored to set up my camera and lights. I’m deep into the production of my documentary “Chipping Away: The Life and Legacy of Sculptor William Edmondson”, and one of the important figures in the film is a reporter that John had known. John Seigenthaler, a giant of journalism, civil rights advocate, founder of the Freedom Forum and the First Amedment Center, confidante of the powerful and champion of the powerless, had agreed to an on-camera interview with me.

Our first poster.

Monday, 05 May 2014 by

It’s different when you have a poster. The movie that exists only in your imagination is now a step closer to reality. Even if it’s a tiny step…it’s something tangible, something you can show to folks.

When you are a solo filmmaker, the natural tendency is to concentrate your effort on making the film itself. After all, you only so much bandwidth. In a perfect world, you manage to strike a balance among all the tasks: researching, writing, filming, gathering archival visuals, rights negotiations, fundraising, and raising awareness through promotional outreach. In the real world, each area jockeys for position and there never is enough time. Seems like promotion is the first task that gets shoved to the backburner.

Who was William Edmondson?

Monday, 02 December 2013 by

William Edmondson talked with God. And God delivered a message: teach yourself to carve in limestone. Within five years, the old janitor from Nashville, Tennessee was a master sculptor, and in 1937 he became the first African American to be given a solo show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. What started as divine inspiration culminated in a kind of miracle.