Philadelphia Wireman

(dates unknown - )


around 1967-1975

Wire and found objects

6 x 3 x 2 in. (15.2 x 7.6 x 5.1 cm)

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Museum Acquisition Fund


More Information

Over 700 of these sculptures were found on a curbside in an African-American neighborhood of Philadelphia; nothing is known about their creator. They appear to be related to the Nkisi fetishes (power objects) of the Kongo people of Congo and Zaire and to voodoo fetishes from Cuba and Haiti, suggesting that they may have been ritual objects for use in an underground African-American religion. They may have been created to address individuals’ specific problems, such as heart disease in the caste of the smallest, heart-shaped sculpture. Though the contents of these works distinguishes them, the use of salvaged materials for sculpture has been a widespread phenomenon in contemporary art.

United States
Folk Art
Found objects