9 of 73

Miles Burkholder Carpenter
Indian Man (Self-Portrait)
1967
painted wood and metal, feathers, cloth, and fur
68 x 26 5/8 x 40 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum



After retiring from the lumber business Carpenter began carving "advertisements" for a roadside produce stand he opened in Waverly, Virginia. Soon jaunty figures and animals filled his pickup truck. Whether parked next to his store or driven through town, the truck and its contents attracted attention—at first, customers for the vegetables, ice, and soda pop he sold, and later collectors and dealers seeking his carvings. Carpenter placed the figures of the Indian man and woman in his truck and ran a cord from the man's neck to the truck cab so he could make the head move while he was driving. He listened for children's exclamations, "He turned his head!" or "He looked at me!"