Samuel M. Gore
Blessed with Tired Hands
The biography of a much-loved teacher and intensely inspired artist
Born in Coolidge, Texas, Samuel Marshall Gore was the sixth of ten children born to a Baptist preacher and a mother described as “an angel. ” From early childhood, Samuel Gore remembers enjoying making things, and gives credit to his mother and grandmother for his interest in art. Gore went on to be an art teacher and professor for more than fifty years, mostly at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. He has shown work in exhibitions and galleries for more than forty years. In 2012 the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
In the first part of this volume, Barbara Gauntt traces how a concept in the mind of the artist comes to execution. Gore uses sketches on scraps of paper to inform studies in clay, as the piece Christ, Fulfillment of the Law begins to take its inspired shape. The project, expected to take about a year, lasts nearly two as Gore works to capture the constantly changing image forming in his mind. The 12' x 8' bronze, bas relief sculpture, a sister piece to Moses, Deliverer of the Law commissioned for the Mississippi College School of Law, moves from a small work area in the sculptor’s home to a shop on his property. There he builds the full-size piece on an armature of wood, foam board, and netting covered with clay. From chaos arises the beauty of detailed faces and a work of art that tells a story.
The second section of the book covers the artist’s career from the late 1940s into the twenty-first century. Superb photographs of both two- and three-dimensional pieces show the artist’s diverse style and talent. Gore says that he “want[s] people to put their hands on [his] sculpture” because that is how he experiences his art. Gore sees no end in sight to his work. Moses started preaching at the age of eighty, so Gore figures that he is just getting started.
This volume features detailed information about all of the artwork included; an interview with Samuel Gore in which the artist discusses his career, technique, and philosophy; a timeline of his life and career; and a foreword by noted Mississippi artist and former student, Wyatt Waters.
Mississippi is a land of great artistic treasures. From the prints of Walter Anderson to the watercolors of Wyatt Waters, there is something about the state that produces amazing works of art--and prolific artists. Samuel Marshall Gore's name might not roll off the tip of your tongue, but you've probably seen one of his sculptures. And if you have, most likely you've been moved by it.
Photographer and writer Barbara Gauntt has wonderfully chronicled Gore's amazing and prolific career in her new book Samuel M. Gore: Blessed with Tired Hands (foreword by Wyatt Waters). It allows you to get a feel for what a treasure Gore truly is. And not just as an artist.
Born in Coolidge, Texas, in 1927, Gore found his way to Clinton 13 years later. In 1951, he began molding students like he does clay when he was hired as a professor in the Mississippi College art department. In the following years, he became a Mississippi renaissance man, excelling in every medium he worked in whether it was clay, watercolors, bronze, aviation or teaching.
Gauntt's collection of Gore's work shows his depth as an artist and a human being. A photo series takes us from the initial sketches to the unveiling of the final piece. Her beautiful photos show him at work creating a massive sculpture for the Mississippi School of Law. Following his creative process allows the reader to get a sense of his creativity. One particularly moving photo shows Gore collapsed in a chair next to his artwork after meeting a deadline. You understand the power of his work and that it comes from deep inside of him.
Also included in the book is an interview with Gore. It allows even more insight into his soul. You learn what artists inspired him. You understand the depth of his love for his late wife, Margie. And you feel his pain after her passing in 2014.
Gore reminds us of the servant in the Parable of the Talents who used his talents and received more. His prolific artistic career includes more than just sculpture. You can feel the dry desert heat when looking at his painting 'Texas Border Ranch' (Oil on Canvas, 1996). 'Lee Radio and Television' (Oil on Masonite, 1989) has the feel of a lazy Mississippi summer afternoon. The beauty and looseness 'of Watermelon' (Watercolor, 1991) makes you think of the work of one of his future students: Wyatt Waters.
But sculpture is where Gore's hands truly do their magic. You can see the compassion on the face of the statue 'Lt. Gov. Evelyn Gandy' (Bronze 2010). 'Christ the Healer' (Bronze, 2000) touches you with compassion and tenderness. 'Working Man' (Bronze, 1987) is one of the highlights at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson and captures the spirit of Mississippi agriculture. And you will be overwhelmed with the power of the faces in 'Christ, Fulfillment of the Law' (Bronze relief, 2009--the piece chronicled by Gauntt's photo series.
Everyone should become familiar with Gore's work. And Gauntt has created a collection that allows you to do to just that. But where it truly succeeds is creating a feeling for the artist's soul. You understand his life, his mission, and how his faith has made him the artist he is today. You learn the depth of one of Mississippi's true treasures.
And yes, Gore is still creating. To quote the book, 'Moses started preaching at 80, so Gore figures that he is just getting started. '
That's a gift to all of us. Just like this book. Gauntt has created a collection that is as beautiful as Gore's work. And that's a tall compliment, indeed.- Marshall Ramsay, The Clarion Ledger
The example of keeping on and putting one foot in front of the other, trying to make each better than the last--that has been the model that Dr. Gore has exhibited as long as I have known him. Persistence. He does not quit. Dr. Gore's belief and art are one. When he paints, draws, or sculpts, it becomes an act of worship that makes one want to participate in a celebration of creation. You will see his art inside this book, but I will tell you something that is bigger than his art and is the reason for his art. It is no secret--something that defines him to those who have known him. Dr. Gore loves. That's a full sentence and then some.- Wyatt Waters
Dr. Sam Gore is the one crucial person in my life. As head of the Art Department at Mississippi College when I arrived in the mid-60s, he was a hands-on teacher who set a high standard for aesthetic and personal performance. Inside Sam Gore resides a great concentration of the spirit made tangible in his work. A further point of pride is that we are kin, springing from the North Mississippi Hill tribe of Gores. One of the state's oldest families, Gores generally distinguished themselves in politics or at the pulpit far more than the arts. I am happy Dr. Sam Gore was an outlier, and his legacy allowed me to be one as well.- William Dunlap