For over 20 years, Harris crafted his sculptures of recycled materials and displayed them in his yard, creating a forest-like environment. Harris was inspired to make art by a vision from God telling him to set aside his old life and make a new one. God told him to “make somethin’ out of nothin,’” he said. Harris took this to mean that not only should he reform his ways, but that he should literally take found objects and give them new life. In time, Harris constructed a forest of totems, some as tall as 15 feet, made from scrap metal, old toys, street markers and other discarded objects found in his yard.
These significant pieces of folk art were donated to AMSET after Harris’ death in the mid 1980s and have had a tumultuous history at the museum, surviving numerous installation re-locations, de-installations due to threats of inclement weather and subsequent long-term storage. In August 2007, AMSET unveiled Somethin’ Out of Nothin’: The Works of Felix “Fox” Harris, a semi-permanent gallery and glorious new resting place for the Beaumont treasures.
The stunning semi-permanent gallery mimics Harris’ original home site, featuring a mural-sized photo of the artist by internationally renowned photographer Keith Carter, and an installation of 26 Harris totems. Also included are interpretative materials, photographs and his tools consisting of the ball-peen hammer and butter knife that Harris used to create his sculptures. A published hardcover book about the artist and his artwork is available in the museum gift shop.
According to AMSET’s educational department staff, who guide tours through the museum, many AMSET visitors find the Harris sculptures some of the most fascinating pieces of artwork in the permanent collection, and AMSET is proud to be able to display this significant cultural artifact.
Art Museum of Southeast Texas
500 Main Street
Beaumont, TX 77701
M–F: 9am – 5pm
Sat: 10am – 5pm
Sun: Noon – 5pm
Closed major holidays
Admission is always FREE.