Jule Collins Smith Museum to host ‘Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster’

AUBURN – The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art will host the exhibition, “Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster,” from Dec. 11 through March 11 in the Bill L. Harbert Gallery and Gallery C. The museum is one of only five venues nationwide selected to host this traveling exhibition of objects, paintings, and documentation that provide an in-depth survey of the native Alabama artist’s career.

An evangelistic preacher in paint and self-proclaimed Man of Visions, Reverend Howard Finster became one of the most widely known and prolific self-taught artists, producing more than 46,000 works of art before his death in 2001. Finster often referred to himself as “a stranger from another world” and “God’s last red light on the planet earth.” An inventive painter, graphic artist and sculptor, he considered himself foremost a sacred artist, fulfilling visionary prophesies revealed to him by God.

Finster’s preaching experience and showmanlike personality helped shape his public persona and celebrity. Finster extended his visionary message far beyond the multimedia installation, Paradise Garden, at his home in Pennville, Ga. He exhibited internationally, designed album covers for rock bands such as R.E.M. and Talking Heads and appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

“Stranger in Paradise” features nearly 200 objects created by Finster, with subjects ranging from historical figures and cultural icons, such as George Washington and Elvis Presley, to apocalyptic landscapes and futuristic vistas.

In programming related to the exhibition, Art Rosenbaum – fellow artist, Grammy-award winning musician and friend of Finster – will present a slide show and talk on Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. Rosenbaum is a professor emeritus and Wheatley Professor in Fine Arts at the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art.

“Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster” is curated by Glen C. Davies and organized by the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

(Contributed by Colleen Bourdeau.)

Contact: Colleen Bourdeau, (334) 844-7075 (cst0001@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)