Mortal Coil: James “Son Ford” Thomas & David Farris

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This exhibition brings together two accomplished musicians whose unique visual art focuses on the human body. James “Son Ford” Thomas (1926–1993) grew up in Mississippi and learned to play blues guitar by listening to the radio. His job as a gravedigger had a profound effect on his clay sculptures of animals, portrait busts, and skulls, often adorned with teeth, hair, beads, and foil. David Farris is a Lexington-based drummer and member of several local bands. He maintains an active drawing practice, altering newspaper images of sporting events with ink and filling notebooks with line drawings and animation sequences.

Thomas claimed to rely on dreams to inspire his songs and precisely sculpted beings, and both are marked by qualities of melancholy and resignation. Farris regularly posts short video sequences of his percussive experimentation on Instagram. He approaches aural and visual creation with a sense of mastery and restlessness, stating, “Once I've played a drum beat enough times for it to sound good and I can use it, or if I've drawn some images enough to use it, then it's time to try something new.”

The combination of their sculptures and drawings recognizes that artists often have signature content that can be understood no matter what outlets of expression they use. Mortal Coil offers meditations on being and becoming, with bodies in struggle and at peace.

Image credits:

TOP: David Farris, Untitled, ink on Herald Leader sports photographs. Courtesy of the artist.

BOTTOM: James “Son Ford” Thomas sculptures, collection of Linda and George Kurz.

Created 02/24/2022
Last Updated 11/01/2022