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Edgar Tolson
Paradise
1968
painted white elm with pencil
12 7/8 x 17 x 10 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson



Tolson, who carved many representations of Adam and Eve, claimed that "God made the first Adam and Eve and I made the second." This carving represents man and woman in their pure state: "And the Lord God planted a Garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.… And the rib, which the Lord god had taken from man, made he into a woman, and brought her unto the man.… And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." VISTA volunteers first documented Tolson's carvings while conducting a survey of Appalachian crafts workers in the mid-1960s. He has since become one of the area's most celebrated wood carvers.