The symbiosis of artisan and medium whets this tale of the gentle giant of southern Illi-nois and his black walnut carvings.
Fred E. Myers was a southern Illinois coal miner who enjoyed carving figures of men and animals from the native woods of the area but most of all from black walnut, which he polished until the dark soul of the wood showed. An appendectomy in 1938 made it impossible for him to continue to work in the mines and the Works Progress Admin-istration made it possible for him to work full time at his hobby. He worked from 1939 to 1942 carving models of prehistoric animal life and a series of local character types for the Southern Illinois Normal University Museum.
Myers carved thirty-five pieces for the museum and during the same period carved twenty-five pieces on his own. These works represent more than half of his entire artistic output.