Biography

Ned Cartledge (b. 1916 in Canon, GA – d. 2001 in Atlanta, GA) was born the fifth child in a family of six. From 1936 to 1960 Cartledge worked as a “cotton classer” for Anderson Clayton and Company, taking a leave of absence during World War II to serve during which he became a first lieutenant in a mortar battalion that saw action in Europe. As a child, Cartledge whittled often, which he picked up again later in life. He eventually decided, “I was one of the ‘old’ people who opposed the Vietnam war and felt that I ought to speak out.” Cartledge’s “speaking out” took the form of political commentary through sculpture. In 1978, Atlanta folk art dealer Judith Alexander discovered Cartledge’s work, and she helped him gain a broader audience.

Cartledge carved bas-reliefs illustrating his strong political, religious and social opinions with a sense of humor. His primary subject matter is contemporary politics. He found “trickle-down economics” a revolting theory, stating, “it’s the poor who need help,” and commented on this subject through several of his works. Not all of his work is political or in the bas-relief format; he also carved birds, cats, and fish, and even a three dimensional watermelon slice. He also made carved boxes before he moved on to his famed bas-reliefs. His work is in the collection of the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA), the Museum of American Folk Art (New York, NY) and the Museum of International Folk Art (Sante Fe, NM).