The Root Monster is a three-headed imaginary creature! The artist, Miles Burkholder Carpenter, found a straddle-legged tree root, then painted and carved it to look like a monster. Carpenter wanted to make people laugh. He hinged the jaws, so the Root Monster can clack its fangs together!
Carpenter did not go to art school. He had a lumber business instead. Even so, we consider him an artist. Museums call people with no art training folk artists! If you want to see more works by untrained artists, go to Browse the Collection and choose "folk art" in the box labeled "browse by artwork type." Also, visit our online exhibition Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.