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Carlos Cortez Coyle Papers



Scope and Contents

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Detailed Description

Carlos Cortez Coyle Papers

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Carlos Cortez Coyle Papers, 1921-1942 | Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

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Collection Overview

Title: Carlos Cortez Coyle Papers, 1921-1942Add to your cart.

ID: RG 08/8.30

Extent: 1.0 Boxes (General)

Subjects: Berea College -- Affiliated Schools -- Foundation School, Berea College -- Fireside Industries, Folk art -- Appalachian Region, Southern., Students, college -- Berea College

Languages: English


Carlos Cortez Coyle (1871-1962) was a self-taught painter who spent the early part of his life in Dreyfus, Kentucky. In 1889, he briefly attended Berea Foundation School where he was introduced to Appalachian arts and crafts through teacher and Director of Fireside Industries Jennie Lester Hill. Coyle left Berea before graduating for reasons unknown and moved to Florida and then to Canada in an attempt to make a living in farming. Drought caused him to make a career change into the building trade, which came to a close during World War I. After the war, Coyle moved to San Francisco to begin his trade again, but was unsuccessful due to the Great Depression. In 1929, at the age of 60, Coyle took up oil painting and completed over one hundred works between 1929 and 1942.

In 1942, prompted by his failing health, Coyle paid to ship four crates from San Francisco to Berea College containing 47 paintings, 35 drawings and an illustrative diary of his work. Shortly after the unannounced shipment to Berea, Coyle sent a letter of intent stating, “I am resolved to give my art to the land of my birth where I played and spent most of my youth.” The paintings were left crated and put into storage where they remained until 1960 when Berea College art professor Thomas Fern discovered the work and held Coyle’s first exhibition. At that time, Coyle was 88 and suffering from blindness in Leesburg, Florida. He wrote a letter of thanks to the school for showing his work in the art gallery. Carlos Cortez Coyle died two years later in 1962. He was 90.

C.C. Coyle’s paintings are a collection representing Kentucky and West Coast landscape memories ranging in themes of nature, motherhood, astronomy, industrial progress, the passage of time and spirituality. The bulk of his work was made in the 1930’s in the time frame of President Roosevelt’s Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration and the Surrealism movement.

Categorizing C.C. Coyle in an art historical context is challenging. He is self-taught but uses proportion and realistic depth that defies the Folk Art label. Coyle’s boldness of color and brushstroke and lack of conventional restraints is comparable to 20th Century naïve artists.

From KMAC Museum website at http://www.kmacmuseum.org/cc-coyle (July 2017).

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection is comprised of a ledger/diary of art work (including early drawings of birds, plumes, feathers and goddesses that he kept while attending the Berea Foundation School), photographs, and miscellaneous notes covering 1921-1942.

Subject/Index Terms

Berea College -- Affiliated Schools -- Foundation School
Berea College -- Fireside Industries
Folk art -- Appalachian Region, Southern.
Students, college -- Berea College

Administrative Information

Repository: Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

Access Restrictions: Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Use Restrictions: There are no restrictions on the collection other than federal copyright regulations.

Preferred Citation: [Item/Folder], RG 8/8.30: Carlos Cortez Coyle Papers. Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Berea. KY.

Processing Information: Processed July 2017.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Carlos Cortez Coyle Papers],

Box 1: Carlos Cortez Coyle PapersAdd to your cart.
Ledger 1: Diary, 1921-1942Add to your cart.
Includes pieces from time at Berea College, photographs, handwritten notes, notes on art pieces.

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