The Vicksburg Post - Sunday, January 27, 2002
Chad Poovey - Telling a Story
Bv JOSH SHEPHERD
STAFF WRITER VICKSBURG POST
Chad Poovey spends his days off in his garage, surrounded by saws and boards and drawings. He's making things there - carving his ideas into chunks of wood.
"I think I'm always trying to tell a story," Poovey said.
Poovey is an artist, though he shies away a little from the term. In his words, people don't buy into the old idea of a full-time artist, a bohemian on a rampage.
"There's a lot of people out there, button-down types, that work 40 hours and come home and do really good work."
Poovey considers his wood carving a full-time job, but he's tried a few careers. His undergraduate degree is in Spanish. He spent 2 1/2 years in Honduras with the Peace Corps. When he got back, he was a court translator.
He earned a master's degree in creative writing from North Carolina State University. Poovey said that he writes, but has always carved wood.
"I can't remember when I wasn't wood carving," he said.
Now it's his main method of storytelling.
"I'm not much of an abstract artist," he said. "There's usually some narrative I'm trying to tell." Since 1998 he has lived in Vicksburg. He teaches English composition part time at Hinds Community College. His wife took a job at Waterways Expertment Station, and Poovey felt Vicksburg was a place where he could get good work done.
"This I consider being my main job," he said of his woodcarving.
His carvings are offbeat. They are sometimes whimsical, with a little sarcasm, a little humor. Poovey said that was by intention.
He has a few unfinished pieces in his workshop, one of which will be in a Feb.22 show at the Attic Gallery.
Poovey acknowledged another unfinished work, an imposing woman standing on a pedestal, hands on hips. "Have you seen the movie 'Rebecca?' You should check it out," he said. The carving is of the villain in Rebecca, an old Alfred Hitchcock film.
Poovey's inspiration comes from different places - from his life, sometimes, and other times from places unknown.
"I don't want to sound like some nut case, wild-hair artist type, but sometimes I have no idea how
I do the stuff I come up with,"
Poovey said the challenge is taking what he sees in life and translating it to art. More than that, it is taking the ordinary and bringing out its beauty.
"The golden age of folk art, if ever there was one, has come and gone," Poovey said. "In a time when things have become so commercialized, the challenge is to find something different."
Poovey has some work already at the Attic Gallery. There is a wooden cockroach, life-like, 2 1/2 feet tall. And there is "Twelve Peers," 12 wooden dolls, created by Poovey, from various races and creeds, sitting in the jury bench. It is a 360-degree work - the back reveals an electric chair, hidden underneath the jurors, but tying them all together.
"I guess they're getting a jolt,
too," Poovey said.
Poovey said his time spent with native Hondurans had a lasting effect on his ability to appreciate the ordinary.
"Something they're very good at is using found materials," he said. "Their ability to tie knots - it's a lost art ... and they can sharpen things in the wink of an eye," he said.
His point? Art shouldn't be confined.
"Take your pleasures where you find them, that's one thing I learned from Honduras."
Poovey is wary of trying to explain his art. There is potential there to sound pompous. One can go overboard explaining creativity, he said. For this reason, Poovey said he tends to shut down when
questioned about his art. His level-headed approach allows his work to give its own insights though. His work speaks the glory of the ordinary.
In the Attic Gallery are two fish Poovey constructed. A catfish and gar. They are lifelike models. "Everything in the end become' trophy," Poovey said.
He chose the fish because they are not trophies in the south, just normal fish.
"I don't even like them," he said. "They're ugly."
"But if you look at them objectively they're just as interesting as anything."
Poovey moved to Mississippi to get some work done - he can work here without distraction, he said. There's no school of thought imposing its will on artists here, he said. An artist can carve his or her own path.