Self-taught artist Eric Legge was born in Illinois but raised in Georgia where he still resides. Quiet and spiritual in nature, Legge is a passionate and prolific art-maker, a painter and a found-object sculptor. He is inspired by the beautiful surroundings of the North Georgia mountains where his studio and home are located.
Legge is not afraid of color, and his paintings are most often bright and bold. His subjects range from an array of beatific faces and pots of flowers to the Statue of Liberty and the mountains where he lives. The latter’s undulating landscapes often frame a church and occasionally are populated by a four-legged creature or two. Whatever strikes his fancy has the potential to be translated into a fresh take on what could otherwise be considered mundane.
In the book “When the Spirit Speaks: Self-Taught Art of the South,” Legge told author Margaret Day Allen that he hopes that viewers receive “a sense of peace and happiness and joy – which I think is good medicine.”
The son of Joe Legge, a Vietnam veteran who returned home with three Purple Hearts and became a self-taught wood carver and sculptor, Eric Legge grew up making art. He did not feel compelled to pursue an art education, preferring to follow his own creative flame. Eric attended Valdosta State University, earning degrees in anthropology and philosophy, paying for school by working in a program for special needs people who inspired him in the way they lived in the moment.
Joe Legge died in 2009, but Eric continues to make art in the former mechanic’s shop where they worked side by side. Many of Joe’s large-scale wooden sculptures remain displayed beside the work of his son and other folk artists with whom Eric, beloved by his peers, has traded pieces or bought from at festivals.
“When the Spirit Speaks” notes that one of Eric Legge’s favorite literary quotes is from the book “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. For an artist who usually prefers that viewers make their own interpretation of his work, it is telling about his sensibility: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
Legge’s art is included in the permanent collections of Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, the Hurn Museum in Florence, Italy, and the Small Museum of Folk Art in Pittsboro, N.C.; and many private collections.
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