Charlie Lucas was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1951, one of 14 children. He came from a working class family and learned many skills with his hands. He left school as a teenager and learned to support himself with various jobs in construction, driving a truck, and as a handyman.
In 1984, after a debilitating back injury left him in bed to recuperate, he asked the Lord to bestow on him a talent that no one else had. He turned to his hands and his imagination, and began to make sculptures from discarded wire, scrap metal, and assorted materials. He chose the name Tin Man because at the time he only had $10 in his pocket and he used that to buy welding rods.
Today, Charlie's recognition in folk art cirlces has spread all the way to Europe, where he traveled in 2011 with collaborators Mr. Imagination, Lonnie Holley, and Kevin Sampson to create a found object installation for the 54th Venice Biennale. His work is in the collections of the Alabama State Council on the Arts; High Museum of Art in Atlanta; Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando; and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art in his home state, among many others.
Compiled from essays by Betty-Carol Sellen and Robert C. Stewart.