It’s been since 2009 that I last took photographs at the Rev. George Kornegay environment in Brent, Alabama. At that time, he had already moved to the Selma area. This interview he did in the mid/late ’90s is wonderful — on the environment, he said:
I guess I told the story more than one time: When I put this out here, I didn’t put it to say I’m going to get rich or going out to make me some money, but I put it here because my mind say to put that rock right up there. Little old red rock: That’s where I started. And then I kept ‘spanding, I kept ‘spanding, I kept ‘spanding.
At first I had said, “Well, I’m going to do this thing here and then I’m going to quit.”
G-d say, “Go further.”
Overnight, when I lay down, I say, “Tell me how when I get up in the morning.”
He say, next morning, “Put a piece here, put a piece there, put a piece over yonder. Go back and get that; never throw nothing away.” So I fixed it up his way. I spaced it, you know, with the eye God give me. Everything got a place. I told them, “I can see more with my eyes closed than they can see with their eyes open.” So God gave it to me, and I’m going to use it till I die.
The bottom of that page has photographs from when the environment was still in very good condition. The site is often referred to as the ‘House of the Apocalypse’ upon the ‘sacred mountains’ having a beginning of the work around 1960.
None of the Reverend’s pieces are in the show, but what had been known as The Centre for The Living Arts at 301 Conti in Mobile has been renamed The Alabama Contemporary Art Center and their new exhibit is ‘History Refused to Die’ featuring the work of 15 self-taught Alabama artists (Lonnie Holley, the Dials, Joe Minter, others) from the Bill Arnett / Souls Grown Deep Foundation. The show includes 75+ pieces on view through December of this year.