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May 31, 2016 Blog No Comments

http---americanart.si.edu-images-1970-1970.353.1_6a.jpgIn small letters over a massive intricate two tiered throne of silver and gold foil are the words “Fear Not”. It’s one man’s vision of a world of splendor and glory, possibly the world he saw coming, created in secret over 14 years in a rented garage in DC. The artist worked as a janitor in Federal office buildings and dragged in old furniture, paper, cardboard, light bulbs, and other found objects, covered it in silver and gold foil and purple paper to create a massive installation which has been “praised as America’s greatest visionary art”. (1)

I’ve been hearing about this incredible piece of art for years and finally got to see it at the Smithsonian American Art Museum while consulting in DC last week. It is the work of James Hampton, entitled “The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly” constructed from 1950-1965.

Its history is intriguing. On the wall of his garage was posted the saying. “Where there is no vision, people perish” (Proverbs: 29:18 King James Version). This was evidently the prompt that kept him going with his life’s work. Mr. Hampton also developed undecipherable language to describe his intent, written on boards in what looks like ancient script. None of this was found until after his death, so it’s full message may never be understood.

Mr. Hampton was clearly being led to develop his masterpiece as a homage to some internal calling from God. His vision being one of glory and no fear.

This art piece is part of the Smithsonian’s collection of “Folk and Self-Taught Art” which highlights our human urge to create, regardless of training. On the museum walls are also quotes from other folk artists who explain their intent, something Mr. Hampton was unable to do in a way that we can understand. At least not yet.

From Edgar Tolson, an Eastern Kentucky folk artist who is well known, are these words:

“You don’t make it with your hands
You form it with your hands.
You make it with your mind.”
Edgar Tolson, 1971*

In addition, Thornton Dial, Sr., a folk artist from Alabama, is quoted as saying:

“Art aint about paint, it aint about canvas, it’s about ideas.
Too many people died without getting their mind out to the world.”
Thornton Dial Sr., 1985*

I love these sayings and the accompanying art. As much time as I have spent in museums, this exhibit speaks to me like few others. These artists are communicating the same message I want to get out with my work. Allow me to explore it with you.

Here is my take away from the artist’s messages – they tell a story. See what you think:


Just as James Hampton was guided by the message from Proverbs to claim his vision or perish, we too need that as our starting point for anything we want to launch in life. With a vision as our guide, we can make it as glorious as we want, literally creating our world view.

When we imagine our life as we want it, why would we ever create and support a mindset of fear? Create a vision of yourself and your life filled with joy and splendor. It works. We can live nurtured by beliefs that support us and our greatest good.

Use your vision to formulate a life view that allows you to live with joy, not fear.


As Edgar Tolson said, it all starts with the focus of our thoughts. Yes, we may work hard with our hands or our mind in all manner of ways. But it all starts with where we put the attention of our mind. Where is yours? We can be petty and small minded or expansive and creative.

How do you want to live your life? Whether you are creating a piece of art, a business or applying yourself to work or relationships, the process is the same. It is your ideas, your mental fantasies that start the process. Allow yourself to dream a little. What do you want for yourself?

Your thoughts are the catalyst for what you manifest.


Thornton Dial was retired before he began focusing on his art work. His quote, which is from the walls of the Smithsonian exhibit, actually ends with this statement: “I found how to get my ideas out and I won’t stop.” (2) Yes, that is a statement of strong intent.

If you have a vision, if you have ideas, no matter what the medium or the focus of your work, you are responsible for the direction they take. As we expand our ideas of ourselves, we literally expand the world by putting them in action.

Look at the impact that TED Talks have made. The sharing of those worldwide perspectives is shaping our views of ourselves and everyone else. The expansive ideas on that show supports visions of personal, social and planetary responsibility, compassion and innovation. It’s all getting out into the world. We can do it too.

We have responsibility to our fellow man to get our vision and ideas out.

Do you have ideas or visions for your life that you’d like to explore and get into the world? As this Smithsonian exhibit illustrates, no matter what your training, your focused attention to what you want can make it happen. Fear Not – you can create it and make it happen.

If you’d like to delve into your visions for yourself or the ideas that you have considered but haven’t acted on, my Transformational Life Coaching can help. You will find more information on my websitewww.spectrumtransformation.com.I invite you to request a free consultation to learn if it’d be helpful. I look forward to hearing from you.

1. * Smithsonian American Art Museum – “Folk and Self-Taught” Exhibition. The references material on James Thornton and quotes from Edgar Tolson and Thornton Dial are available on line at http://americanart.si.edu/collections/highlights/folk/ .
2. Smithsonian American Art Museum – “Folk and Self-Taught” exhibition with additional bibliography on Thornton Dial found on line athttp://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artist/?id=6136

Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com

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