Reverend Johnnie F. Simmons - Folk Art
Such humorous depictions and quirky slices of life abound in Simmons' art, which draws from his St. Helena Island upbringing.
"I like to remember the old," he said, recalling memories of '50s and '60s from St. Helena. "Old houses, old people, old ways of life."
Simmons is a self-taught pyrography artist using paint, woodburning techniques, and the Gullah language to tell stories through his art.
Sometimes, he doesn't have to come up with an image or a narrative. The wood tells him its story. "I read the wood first. Some already have pictures in them," says Simmons.
A Vietnam War veteran, Simmons began creating art as a form of therapy when he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. He started by painting rocks in the craft room of a VA hospital where he was undergoing a six-week PTSD program.
When he got home, he picked up a woodburning kit and some lumber. "It seemed doable," he said.
He has sold hundreds of pieces and is featured in the book "When the Spirit Speaks: Self-taught Art of the South" by Margaret Day Allen.