Early in the 1980s I began work on a body of work based on interviews of tornado victims. I was commissioned to build a sculpture for the North Mississippi Medical Center and as part of that project I was to build a time capsule and produce a book on the history of the medical center. Tupelo’s first hospital was destroyed by a tornado in 1936 and the interviews for the book included a series of enthralling tornado stories. People claimed to have been turned around in their pants, chickens lost their feathers, cast-iron wash pots were turned inside out. I recorded stories, photographed improvised tornado shelters, and built sculptures, produced paintings, prints and drawings from the outrageous narratives.
I continue to expand this body of work and major works from this series are included in the High Museum, Atlanta, the Rose Museum, Boston, the Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C., the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Hechinger Collection and more than fifty private collections.
"Tornado Hayhouse II" by Ke Francis | 15"x15"x54" inches | c.1981 | Mixed Media
"Burning House and Figure" by Ke Francis | 24"x24"x84" inches | c.1983 | Mixed Media
"Tornado Debris and Cow" by Ke Francis | 26"x32"x76" inches | c.1988 | Mixed Media