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Donny Tolson

The youngest son of notorious sculptor and woodworker, Edgar Tolson, Donald (Donny) Lee Tolson was born in Campton, Kentucky. While his work is stylistically similar to his father’s, Donny’s carvings are often of a broader subject matter and are easily distinguishable from Edgar’s. A family of woodcarvers, the Tolsons use woodcarving as a means of interpreting biblical and traditional stories and bringing meaning to the lessons and morals they teach. Sometimes painting his carvings, the surfaces of the pieces in KMAC’s collection are bare, allowing the qualities of the figure itself to animate the material.


Related artists in KMAC's collection:

Garland Adkins, Minnie Adkins, Ernest Baker, Linvel Barker, Minnie Black, Marvin FinnDenzil Goodpaster, Tim Hall, Larry Hamm, Alma Lesch, Erma "Junior" Lewis, Tim Lewis, Lloyd "Hog" Mattingly, Carl McKenzie, Earnest Patton


Click to view an archival list of all artists in the collection.


Recurring themes:

Agriculture, Class, Domestic Life, Spirituality 


KMAC exhibitions:

Hollers and Harvests, Re-Animation: Turning Toys into Art


Reference material:

Ardery, Julia S. The Temptation: Edgar Tolson and the Genesis of Twentieth-Century Folk Art. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.


Laffal, Florence, and Julius Laffal. American Self-Taught Art: An Illustrated Analysis of 20th Century Artists and Trends with 1,319 Capsule Biographies. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., 2003.


Lavitt, Wendy. Animals in American Folk Art. New York: Knopf, 1990.


Pierce, James Smith, Larry Hackley, and Folk Art Society of Kentucky. God, Man and the Devil: Religion in Recent Kentucky Folk Art. Lexington: Folk Art Society of Kentucky, 1984.

Untitled (Devil with Pitchfork)

Untitled (Devil with Pitchfork)

Wood. Courtesy of Mary and Rev. Al Shands.

Jacob Wrestling the Angel

Jacob Wrestling the Angel

Wood. Courtesy of Mary and Rev. Al Shands.

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