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SETI ROCKWAND
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I'm Thankful to the ALMIGHTY GOD
I'm Thankful to the ALMIGHTY GOD

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Artist Minnie Eva Jones Evans was born on December 12, 1892.

Born in a cabin in Long Creek, North Carolina, Minnie’s was fourteen years old and working as a domestic servant. At the age of only two months, Minnie was taken to live with her grandmother in Wilmington. She was essentially raised by her grandmother and considered her biological mother to be more of a sister-figure. Her father, George Moore, was also very young when she was born and abandoned the small family.

Minnie’s family history is full of strong women. Passed down verbally from one generation to the next, their story recounts the experiences of their ancestor, Moni, an African woman who was a slave in Trinidad.

Minnie began school at the age of five and attended until she was in the sixth grade, leaving school to help earn money for her family. She had loved studying history, mythology, and biblical stories which were part of her deep Baptist faith.

After leaving school, she worked as a “sounder,” going door-to-door selling shellfish gathered from the waters off of the North Carolina coast. She met Julius Ceasar Evans and married her nineteen-year-old groom four days after her own sixteenth birthday. Not being of legal age, she wrote her age as eighteen on the marriage license, which became something the couple often joked about during their long marriage through which they bore three sons.

Her husband worked as the valet for Pembroke Jones, a wealthy landowner, and Minnie went into domestic service on the estate as well. After the death of Jones, his widow remarried and moved with her new husband to the estate called Airlie where the Evans’ continued working for the family. The 150 acres were developed into an expanse of gardens and opened to the public in 1949. Minnie Evans became the gatekeeper, collecting admission from visitors, and eventually retired from her post in 1974.

Minnie Evans didn’t start drawing until she was 43 years old when a voice told her she must “draw or die.” On Good Friday, 1935, she did her first drawing, and the next day a second one followed. Both are now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work was an automatic process, seemingly directed by outside forces. Evans once stated: “I have no imagination. I never plan a drawing. They just happen.”

It would be five years before she would create another picture. She found her two drawings, both dated and one bearing the inscription ‘my very first’ and the other ‘my second’, stuck in the pages of a magazine that she was about to dispose of by burning. This chance finding seemed fortuitous and signaled the beginning of her fervent art making.

She gave her pictures to people who admired her work, and eventually hung them up near the gatehouse at the gardens where she worked, selling them for fifty cents each, a sum equal to half her daily wages.

Eventually, Evans’ work came to the attention of Nina Howell Starr, a graduate photography student in her forties who was married to a professor of a Florida university. Starr worked with Evans from 1962 until 1984, becoming her de facto agent, traveling to see Minnie frequently and showing her work to New York galleries. With the encouragement and assistance of her agent and friend, Evans work was widely exhibited.

Minnie continued drawing for most of her life. She moved into a nursing home in 1982 and died there on December 16, 1987, at the age of 95.

Source: http://www.petulloartcollection.org/the_collection/about_the_artists/artist.cfm?a_id=11
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12/12/17
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