On View
Jan 28, 2010–Mar 28, 2010

An evangelistic preacher in paint and self-proclaimed Man of Visions, Reverend Howard Finster became one of the most widely known and prolific self-taught artists, producing over 46,000 pieces of art by his death in 2001. Finster often referred to himself as "a stranger from another world" and "God's last red light on the planet earth." He saw himself as a sacred artist, fulfilling his visionary prophesies revealed to him by God through a heavenly, outer space world. Thus Finster believed he was to disperse warnings to people to save their souls from the horrors of hell. These experiences were very real to Finster and provided a seemingly limitless variety of images for his art, and content for his rapid fire, stream of consciousness monologues.

Exhibition sponsored by Fox Development Corporation; Thomas E. Scanlin; Office of the Chancellor, U of I; Office of the Provost and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, U of I; Illinois Arts Council, a State Agency; Krannert Art Museum Director's Circle; and Krannert Art Museum Council

In the mid-1960s, Finster began building a roadside park, first known as the Plant Farm Museum, an attraction meant to display all of "the inventions of mankind." This soon transformed into an outdoor museum of collaged concrete sculpture, collections of unusual junk and recycled machine parts, hanging sun catchers, and buildings covered in paintings and signs. Later, in an 1975 article in Esquire magazine, it was dubbed "Paradise Garden," and the name stuck.

Finster said he was "God's junk man." Endlessly inventive, he took all manner of salvaged junk and discarded items, and using his ingenuity and tireless energy, created expressions of his personal visions. In his poem for the garden, he stated, "I took the pieces that you threw away and put them together by night and day, washed by the rain, dried by the sun, a million pieces all in one."

This exhibition provides an in-depth survey of Finster's career, covering the variety of themes inherent in his work, much of it relating to his visionary experiences, including: Visions of Other Worlds, Sermons in Paint, Historical and Cultural Heroes and The Plant Farm Museum [Paradise Garden].

Select Exhibition Programming

February 23–5:30 pm
Film Screening and Panel Discussion
I Can Feel Another Planet in My Soul: Strange Visions. Wondrous Art. The Remarkable World of Howard Finster. A showing of excerpts from a documentary film (in progress) on Howard Finster followed by a panel discussion with Steven Pattie, executive producer/program creator; Glen C. Davies, exhibition curator; Jim Arient, collector; and Randy Ott, collector


March 4–5:30 pm
Guest Lecture
"An Inside Look at Outsider Art Environments: Monumental Expressions of Devotion, Evangelism, and Salvation," a talk by Lisa Stone, author, adjunct associate professor, and curator of the Roger Brown Study Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Co-sponsored by Lorado Taft Lectureship on Art; School of Art + Design; Department of Landscape Architecture; and Krannert Art Museum

Guest Curator: Glen C. Davies