Reception for Cornett exhibit slated for June 6

May 15, 2014

Chester Cornett
Credit MSU

Morehead State University’s Kentucky Folk Art Center has announced its newest exhibition, “Chester Cornett: Beyond the Narrow Sky.” The exhibition will remain on display through August 22.

A reception will be held Friday, June 6, in conjunction with KFAC’s annual A Day in the Country folk art fair on June 7.

“Chester Cornett: Beyond the Narrow Sky” will present more than two dozen rocking chairs and other objects made by him before his death in 1981, as well as numerous photographs of the artist and descriptive text panels. The exhibition presents Cornett’s amazing chairs and poses the question of why the artist chose to relentlessly pursue his outdated craft in the face of great economic and personal adversity.

The display will be accompanied by a full color catalog and will feature Appalshop’s documentary film “Hand Carved.”

This project was made possible through a significant grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Cornett lived from 1913-81. He was born in Letcher County and spent much of his younger years around Pine Mountain in Letcher and Harlan counties. After serving in World War II, he returned to the area and lived at various locations with his longest stay being in Dwarf. In his later years, he moved to Cincinnati.

Cornett is recognized as one of 20th century America’s finest craftsmen and folk artists. He made hundreds of chairs which were sold in the region. This project is the culmination of several years of intensive research and investigation by the staff of the Kentucky Folk Art Center.

“Tenacity is an important attribute for both artists and small art museums,” said Matt Collinsworth, KFAC’s director. “Chester Cornett made some of the finest and most interesting chairs in history, all the while enduring both personal and economic hardships.

“For KFAC, bringing this project to fruition decades after the artist’s death also took significant effort.  The chairs were not easy to find and funding was even more difficult to come by, but we are overjoyed with the final results, with our ability to provide Chester Cornett with the exhibition his work so greatly deserved.  We offer our most sincere gratitude to the exhibition lenders, to those who supported our research, and to the NEA for providing invaluable funding support.”

Kentucky Folk Art Center is a cultural, educational and economic development service of Morehead State University. The Center is open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 606-783-2204 or visit kyfolkart.org.