The Ward Museum

I was able to visit my family in Virginia this last week. Recently I have started carving birds with my father during these visits, but this time our friend’s basement wood shop wasn’t available. Instead we drove 3.5 hours each way to Salisbury, MD on the eastern shore to visit the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art.

I was most excited see how art can extend from craft and function. I felt at home in the intersection of hunting, craft, and painting. Here specifically, decorative carving evolved from functioning decoys used for hunting. The museum explores the history of decoys and carving and concentrates specifically upon two brothers, Lem and Steve Ward from Crisfield, MD. They changed the culture around carving during the early 20th century. Rural life, nature, and relationships met art.

I’m just an old has been decoy,
no ribbons have I won.
My sides and head are full of shot
from many a blazing gun.
My home has been by the river,
just drifting along with the tide.
No roof have I had for a shelter,
no one place where I could abide.
I’ve rocked to winters wild fury;
I’ve scorched in the head of the sun.
I’ve drifted and drifted and drifted
for tides never cease to run.
I was picked up by some fool collector,
who put me up here on a shelf.
But my place is out on the river,
where I can drift all by myself.
I want to go back to the shoreline,
where flying clouds hang thick and low,
And get the touch of the rain drops
and the velvety soft touch of the snow.
— THE DRIFTER by Steve Ward