Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 42

RM | NEIGHBORS

A steady
progression
Brent Foster honed his
carving skills from
an early age
by Jim McCarty | jmccarty@ruralmissouri.coop

L

ooking for the right words to describe his lifetime of
carving wood, Brent Foster calls it a " journey of self
progress. " He recalls getting started at the tender age
of 8, watching an experienced friend whittle a piece
and deciding he could do it too.
Brent armed himself with his dad's telephone lineman
knife, grabbed a chunk of wood and worked on shaping
soda bottles, birds and the like. " I just picked up the knife
and gave it a whirl, " says the Southwest Electric Cooperative member.
As his skills developed the youngster worked side by
side with the woodcarvers at Silver Dollar City, much to
the delight of those visiting the Branson theme park. Flash
forward to today and Brent stands in an almost-completed
gallery on his farm near Humansville surrounded by his
latest efforts. Most are near-life-sized, three-dimensional
American Indians, painstakingly carved from huge blocks
of wood. Others fit on shelves but were crafted with just as
much care and concern for detail as the larger ones.
" I focus mostly on western art but I haven't eliminated
Santa from my playbook, " Brent says. Indeed, the shelves
include several interpretations of the jolly elf, each with
a distinctive touch that sets his pieces off from the work
of other carvers. For example, Brent likes to carve flowers
and birds into his Santas. He will stretch out the typically
plump proportions for a tall Santa. And for a group carving
of Mr. and Mrs. Claus he made them barefoot like Ozark
hillbillies.
For his western art, which includes cowboys and American Indians, the carver strives for historical accuracy. On
some pieces the details are accurate down to the rifles
carved into the man's hands or the jewelry representing a
particular tribe.
One piece features an American Indian woman who carries a chubby baby on her back, his smile magnetic. " This
is my favorite, " Brent's wife, Elizabeth, says of the piece.
" I was impressed with how he captured the tenderness
between the mother and child. "
A black crow may symbolize bad omens or in the case
of a cowboy with a loaded pistol behind his back, old debts
that must be settled. Brent does his best to carve all of the
details from a single piece of wood. Only rarely will he add
something to the finished work.
" I almost 100 percent never do two pieces of the same
thing, " Brent adds. " The first one would be fun. The second

42

RURAL MISSOURI | FEBRUARY 2021



Rural Missouri - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2021

Contents
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Contents
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 4
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 5
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Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 41
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 42
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Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 45
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 46
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover4
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