In 1968 Roger Smith ate a peach during a break from work. When he was finished he took out a pocketknife and began carving the peach pit into a tiny pig. 43 years later the retired meter reader and cattle rancher from Culloeka, Tennessee has carved hundreds of peach seeds into hummingbirds, stingrays, gospel choirs, entire villages, even a baseball stadium with 100+ figures. “Given enough time,” says Smith, “I don’t think there is anything you can’t make out of a peach seed.”
Roger Smith’s unique art, inspiring talent, and fascinating life are the subject of a short (11 minute) documentary by filmmaker Stewart Copeland. The explores Smith’s process as well as his inspirations and presents a thoughtful portrait of a self-taught artist who’s distinctive art is as much a part of his rural Southern landscape as it is a reflection of it.
Roger Smith has been featured in the books TRADITION: TENNESSEE LIVES AND LEGACIES by Robert Cogswell and WEIRD TENNEESSEE by Roger Manley. His peach seed Santa Claus was selected as one of the ornaments of the White House Christmas Tree.
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Last year, we created a piece about The Bird House Man that is also worth viewing. If King Midas had a penchant for wreckage, Mr. N.L. Jones would be his primary client. On the South Side of Downtown, Mr. Jones has worked at Orr-Reed Wrecking from more than 40 years, collecting barbed wire, tin, and nails to create his unique birdhouses. With his sunken eyes and a cigarette attached to a wrinkled hand, he artfully employs the scraps from Orr-Reed and turns materials into masterpieces. As long as an item has Mr. Jones’ signature antique feel, it can be transformed into a work of art.
Stewart Copeland is a documentary filmmaker from Tennessee. His films have played nationally and internationally, including The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Atlanta International Film Festival, an extended international tour with the Rural Route Film Festival and national broadcasts on POV and The Documentary Channel. Stewart is also the recipient of the prestigious Individual Artist Fellowship through the Tennessee Arts Commission. His last two documentaries were JENNIFER and LET YOUR FEET DO THE TALKIN’, both films are available through the Grammy Award Winning label Dust-To-Digital. stewstew.com