Motorists driving on Highway 25 in far northeastern Mississippi will find it difficult to miss seeing Kenneth Adams’ home. The Tishomingo County resident has turned his front yard into a display space for the numerous chainsaw carvings he has created over the past decade. The yard is crowded with carvings of alligators, bears, eagles, the Mississippi State Bulldog, and many other figures.
Adams is a native of the county and grew up on a farm outside of the town of Tishomingo. He did not carve or do woodwork as a child, but as an adult he took up carpentry as a profession and built houses in the area for many years. On a vacation trip to the Smoky Mountains fifteen years ago, he saw a craftsman creating wood sculptures with a chainsaw. In the tradition of the “If he can do it, I can do it” school of self-taught artists, Adams came home and began teaching himself the art form.
Adams uses logs and other large pieces of wood given to him by friends to create the carvings of animals and other characters. He says that “99 percent” of the carving is done strictly with a chainsaw, with the occasional use of some hand tools. Most of the pieces are created entirely out of one piece of wood. Some of the large pieces, such as the angel (see photo gallery), have had external pieces of carving added to the main log. He has also used eyes bought through a taxidermy catalog on some of the animal carvings, including his polar bear. Adams uses ordinary exterior house paints to paint the pieces.
Although he has never sold a piece of his work, Adams has donated a carving of a bear to Tishomingo State Park. The carving is displayed outside of the park’s main lodge building. He has not been active creating new pieces over the last year due to health problems, but Adams is always willing to talk with visitors who stop to view his work.