For decades, artist Freeman Vines has made guitars in his shop in eastern North Carolina using found objects, including wood from a tree where a man was once lynched. In addition to Vines' haunting sculptures, the Hanging Tree Guitars exhibition also includes a number of tintype photographs by Timothy Duffy. Freeman Vines' sculpture and words are the subject of the book, "Hanging Tree Guitars" by Freeman Vines with Timothy Duffy and Zoe Van Buren.
"To meet Freeman Vines is to meet America itself. An artist, a luthier and a spiritual philosopher, Vines' life is a roadmap of the truths and contradictions of the American South. He remembers the hidden histories of the eastern North Carolina land on which his family has lived since enslavement. For over 50 years Vines has transformed materials culled from a forgotten landscape in his relentless pursuit of building a guitar capable of producing a singular tone that has haunted his dreams. From tobacco barns, mule troughs, and radio parts he has created hand-carved guitars, each instrument seasoned down to the grain by the echoes of its past life. In 2015, Vines befriends photographer Timothy Duffy and the two begin to document the guitars, setting off a mutual outpouring of the creative spirit. But when Vines acquires a mysterious stack of wood from the site of a lynching, Vines and Duffy find themselves each grappling with the spiritual unrest and the psychic toll of racial violence living in the very grain of America." – Zoe Van Buren
This exhibition is organized by the Music Maker Foundation. Music Maker has mounted over 50 exhibitions across the U.S. in the last six years, including exhibitions at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Huntsville Museum of Art, the Morris Museum of Art, and the New York Library for the Performing Arts.