Man of Visions:
The Inspired Works of the Reverend Howard Finster
November 17, 2016 - February 25, 2017
The Reverend Howard Finster was born a century ago in Valley Head, Alabama. A self-proclaimed "Man of Visions," Finster experienced his first vision at age three, in which he was told to anticipate further visions that would mark and direct his life. When he was 16 he felt called to become a preacher and began traveling to tent revivals all over Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. He eventually settled down, serving at several Baptist churches in North Georgia until his retirement from ministry in 1965. Following his retirement, Finster decided to establish a Plant Farm Museum on his land in Pennville, Georgia where he would celebrate the inventions and attributes of mankind.
In 1976, while using his fingers to paint a refurbished bicycle, Finster looked down to see a vision of a face in a dab of paint on his thumb. A voice spoke to him asking that he create 5,000 paintings in order to spread the gospel. Taking this instruction to heart, Finster numbered all of his sacred art and completed the task shortly before Christmas in 1985. However, at his death in 2001, he had documented over 46,000 pieces of art.
Finster's work depicted a diverse range of religious, didactic and humorous paintings, sculptures which typically included biblical, historical and pop culture icons. The overall subject of his three decade career was religious inspiration and the promotion of Christianity. Finster's Plant Farm Museum eventually became known as Paradise Gardens. Containing elaborate sculptures, biblical signs, unusual towers, and ornamented walls and buildings.
Nevertheless, he did not limit himself to painting, sculpture, and decorative art complexes. Finster gained national attention and acclaim after designing album covers for the Georgia-based rock band R.E.M. and for the Talking Heads, awarded album cover of the year by Rolling Stone magazine. Despite his fame, he remained focused on religious outreach. When speaking about the Talking Head's album, Finster proudly stated, "I think there's 26 religious verses on that first cover I done for them. They sold a million records in the first two and a half months after it come out, so that's 26 million verses I got out into the world in two and a half months!"