Frank E. Cummings III | It's Magic
Frank E. Cummings III

born 1938
Resides in Long Beach, California

Biography             Statement             Ask the Artist
Frank E. Cummings III is a Professor of Fine Arts at California State University, Fullerton, where he received his MA in 1971. He also served as Associate Dean of the School of the Arts at CSU from 1982 to 1993. He has been a consultant to the National Endowment for the Arts and for the State Department.

Cummings' one man exhibition traveled in 1981 throughout Africa, including stops in Ghana, Gabon, Madagascar, and Malawi. Cummings has also shown his work in Lagos, Nigeria. His work is feature in the show "Uncommon Beauty in Common Objects," a show of African-American craft artists which has travelled to the American Craft Museum in New York City, the Museum of African American Life and Culture in Dallas, and the Renwick Gallery, National Museum of American Art, in Washington, DC.


Although the inspiration and motivation for my creations change, two factors remain constant.

My objects are vehicles for my passions, inspirations and emotions. They are designed to evoke responses, generate reactions and cause change.

The world is full of things and our resources to create these things diminish. Therefore as an object maker it is imperative that my objects have relevance and make a difference, that they enrich the soul and contribute to the spiritual and emotional well-being of the human condition.

I have chosen to pursue these goals by remaining consistent and not conforming to social, economic or political pressures. My passion is, as our friend James Prestini said: "Don't be different, just be good." We will miss you James.

Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

My inspiration/ideas come from experiences/events, people or situations.

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

I work alone--almost in isolation.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

I teach all the time, but I do not take on apprentices.

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

The idea or event is the most exciting - and second is just before I finish the work.

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?

Finding the time to work. - sometimes the event is most difficult, because of the level of passion involved.

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

After selecting the materials, the wood is mounted on the lathe for a very short time - after which hours and hours sometimes weeks or months of hard work - the technology has not changed.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

There are no short cuts.

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

I wish I had an answer - It is taking me longer to make my works than I thought - knowing that, however, would not have stopped me.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

The work has been designed to be experienced in person. The photo or TV format has not yet captured the experience or the passion.

Fletcher Cox John Cummings