Restoring Howard Finster’s visual art site in Summerville, Ga. Finster died in 2001 at the age of 84 and left behind more than 46,000 pieces of artwork and a garden of attractions:
“Fueled by Coca-Cola, spoonfuls of instant coffee granules, and King B Sweet Twist tobacco, Finster started feverishly creating what would become 46,991 numbered works of art. He perfected an iconography of angels, demons, animals, spaceships, inventors, presidents, Marilyn, and Elvis—mostly painted on wooden cutouts covered over with Bible verses and sermons rendered in urgent all caps.
“Tipped off by Esquire, UGA art professor Andy Nasisse asked Finster to give a talk about his work. The Georgia State Botanical Garden in Athens also invited him to do a show. ‘He blew everyone’s mind at the university,’ recalls Nasisse. ‘Some described that one lecture as a year’s worth of education.’ Other university professors were soon visiting Pennville, from schools like Wake Forest, Lehigh, and Virginia Tech.”