I was contacted by E.T. Wickham’s great-granddaughter earlier this year about a project she’s working on, and have been watching this talk she gave on his sculptures
“E.T. Wickham: The Intersection of Family and Preservation” by Brittany Wickham Walker
In the back woods of Palmyra, Tennessee, a small community southwest of Clarksville, dozens of concrete statues line a road near the Cumberland River. Although many of these sculptures have been vandalized since their creation in the mid-1900s, they play an important role in the settlement and identity of the area. These sculptures were created by Enoch Tanner Wickham, a self-taught artist who created nearly forty concrete works during the last twenty years of his life, using only the materials around him. Although his period of artistic significance lasted less than twenty years, Wickham’s work had a notable impact on his community. His formal education ended in the sixth grade, but his knowledge of and interest in American history and politics inspired his work. His sculptures included politicians, religious figures, wildlife, American presidents, and soldiers. A descendent of one of the first families to settle in Montgomery County, Wickham was surprisingly liberal for his age and location, inspired by figures like John F. Kennedy. The artist had a reputation of being a mischief-maker, often playing practical jokes on his conservative (and not receptive) Palmyra neighbors.
I visited this environment a few years ago — here are some of the images