The Toccopola Project


The story of Munchkin



She was given to me as a kitten with severe nerve damage to her buttocks. I fed her with a bottle. She was without the use of her back legs and tail. I regularly had to clean her like an infant. Munchkin regained some of her movement but never the use her tail which remained broken at the tip and always looked limp. She was very small and odd. I was her only friend and we both liked it that way. She had seizures frequently in the morning. She disappeared one day and I have always wondered what happened to my most treasured cat.


The yellow beams represent the possible culprits that caused her passing. Did she swallow a bird that wouldn’t go down, fall out of a tree trying to rob a nest, get run over by a drunken redneck, or drowned trying to catch a fish? The lightning bolts represent her seizures. The bright circus colors, crossed eyes and mustache represent her awkward yet funny way that only I understood. She was my most beloved cat and treasure.



The people will see the same quirkiness and laughable side of the cat as they see in the town of Toccopola.  As does the town,  the cat has parts of its anatomy that are ugly on the outside. No one wants either, and both are, in a word, handicapped, having convulsions that result in undesirable traits such as Munchkin’s urine sprinkled on the walls and Toccopola’s sporadic spitting out of rundown trailers, beer cans, and lawn mowers in scattered areas throughout the town.   The cat created a make-believe world for herself to make life livable.


In Toccopola you have to be optimistic or you will drown in the poverty and waste of your surroundings.  Though they both showed me little love, what they lacked in compassion they made up for in character.  Neither Munchkin nor Toccopola were known for their composure, couth, or knowledge of the world, but what I love about both are their bones.  Much like Munchkin’s youth, the structure of what Toccopola used to be were soon destroyed by the disease of progression.  The aging residents tell of wondrous, almost magical legends of petrified logs that brought water to your home, a hotel that had its own tennis court, the possible addition of a college named Ole Miss, dapper young men dressed like 50’s gangsters leaned up on Fords holding pistols.


An outsider or someone who doesn’t care to look deeper would only see an unwanted cat better suited hidden under Mamaw’s porch and a impaired town struggling to be considered normal.  What might have caused the death of Munchkin and the death of the town are debated, speculated, and distorted in wild fantasy, strained from years of abuse and neglect.  Even though many laugh and make fun of them, I cherish the stability of their structure for they held me up during in desperate times of my life.


About toccopolasam

Artist Statement: I'm an outsider artist of women's traditional arts. I've been categorized both as a folk artist and south Gothic artist. I'm not sure either category fits me, but I know my art is informed by a feminine gaze. I distrust labels of this kind. Like my grandmother sewing, I do this because I consider it beautiful. I believe in making art that has a narrative, one that creates an ambiance contributing to the visual effect of the work. Like all Southerners raised in the specter of Lost Cause discourse, memories haunt me and my work as an artist. Although southern Gothic is generally rendered in ockers and gray because of multiple layers of decay on the genre, I use garish, Madi Gras colors in defiance of the myth that Scarlett O Hara is alive and well and living in Toccopola. My art searches the landscape for signs of the new south, I'm trying to scrape off the Mary Kay and show the real face however pock-marked of lady antebellum.
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2 Responses to The Toccopola Project

  1. fuscodesign says:

    Impressive and gorgeous. Thank you.

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