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Russell Childers

Russell Childers

Russell Childers was institutionalized in 1926, at the age of ten. After thirty-eight years he was released to the Willamette Valley Rehabilitation Center in Lebanon, Oregon, were he began to make sculptures from the wood scraps from the picnic tables assembled at the Center. Working on one piece at a time, he slowly transformed his vivid childhood memories into highly detailed and patiently crafted wooden images. In the late 1970's, the University of Oregon's Art Museum mounted a travelling exhibition of his work.

Jan Zach, head of the U. of O. Sculpture Department wrote the following preface for the show: "These days, when keen competition between artists drives them to explore novelty in order to be outstanding, it is arresting to find an artist such as Russell Childers, the Oregon-born carver, who can show all of us where true art is created - in that patient quest for identity, for one's own reality, without expectation of acclaim. Because of his lucid and healthy memory and lively imagination, Childers has surmounted the physical condition which has constricted his life."


Russell Childers Oregonian Article

Russell Childers Oregonian Article


Russell Childers, AUNT DAY

Russell Childers, AUNT DAY


Russell Childers, AUNT DAY

Russell Childers, AUNT DAY


Russell Childers, AUNT M. DON DAY

Russell Childers, AUNT M. DON DAY


Russell Childers, BOY ON BENCH

Russell Childers, BOY ON BENCH


Russell Childers, BOY WITH SHOES

Russell Childers, BOY WITH SHOES


Russell Childers, DOG

Russell Childers, DOG

7" x 24" x 17", carved from July 10 to Septerber 14, 1972.

Nearly 30 years ago, when I heard the University of Oregon Art Museum was mounting a travelling exhibit of Russell Childers' work, I took money I had been saving for tools and drove to Lebannon. Tucked under a dusty table in the lobby was this Dog. I knew everyone had rejected it because it was clearly infested with tiny wood boring insects, but I brought it home anyway, eventually finding a way to end their nibbling. When I brought it home I set it out of the way on the floor. Our cat came around the corner and went in full snarl, convinced his territory had been invaded. But the dog remained motionless, and eventually the cat nonchalantly sniffed its nose and sauntered off. I thought it was to Russell's credit that his carving had captured 'dogness' to sufficiently startle a cat.


Russell Childers, DOG IN CAGE

Russell Childers, DOG IN CAGE


Russell Childers, MAN CLIMBING A LADDER

Russell Childers, MAN CLIMBING A LADDER


Russell Childers, MOTHER AND CHILD (seated)

Russell Childers, MOTHER AND CHILD (seated)


Russell Childers, MOTHER AND TWO SONS

Russell Childers, MOTHER AND TWO SONS


Russell Childers, SEVEN BOYS FISHING BY MOONLIGHT

Russell Childers, SEVEN BOYS FISHING BY MOONLIGHT

This piece was truly remarkable in concept and execution. I wish I could see it again.

I am fully aware how truly bad most of my slides are. It was a new camera, and I did not have a tripod. But I suppose I am posting the best of them hopes that you can get a flavor of his pieces. And also with the hope that just maybe someone will come across this meager collection of Russell Childers work who has access to better pictures that they are willing to contribute, so we can all remember Russell Childers and why we make art.


Russell Childers,, MOTHER AND CHILD (Walking)

Russell Childers,, MOTHER AND CHILD (Walking)