Daughter’s house filled with father’s carvings

Published 12:21 am Monday, April 14, 2008

NATCHEZ — If it’s carved from wood and it’s in Gwen Swoveland’s house — her father probably made it.

Swoveland’s Vidalia home has become a sort of shrine for the work of her now deceased father, C.L. Sturgeon.

“I’m extremely proud of all the work he did,” she said.

Email newsletter signup

And the work that Swoveland’s father did over the period of approximately a decade is amazing.

Sturgeon’s carvings fill virtually every available spot in Swoveland’s home and cover almost every imaginable subject.

In the kitchen there’s a large hand-carved bass modeled after one that Swoveland’s mother caught.

In the living room an enormous swan rests at the base of the television.

In one room of her house Swoveland has devoted an entire curio cabinet to Santa Claus Ffigurines of every shape and size, all carved by her father.

Busts of Indian’s heads occupy several corners of the home balanced by as many busts of cowboys.

Swoveland’s home has become a museum.

Perhaps what’s more amazing than the actual art is that fact that it was done after Swoveland’s father was in a serious accident that left his hands badly injured.

Swoveland said her father, a welder, was cutting the top off of an oil drum when an explosion nearly destroyed his hands.

Swoveland can still vividly remember the day her father walked in the house with his bloody hands wrapped in rags.

“He said ‘Where’s your mama she’s gotta come take me to the hospital,’” she said.

And one of Swoveland’s favorite carvings is a true testament to her father’s talent.

It’s a perfectly sculpted baseball player that stands only about one inch high.

“I don’t know how anyone could do that,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

Another of Swoveland’s favorites is a carving of her grandparent’s home.

The tiny carving is detailed even to the work shed in the back yard.

The shed looks to be only the size of a mosquito.

Carvings and other art that don the walls of Swoveland’s home not done by her father were done by another close family member — her mother, Martha.

“They both had such amazing talent,” she said. “It’s hard to believe.”

Swoveland’s mother has several pieces displayed throughout the house including one painting of a cypress swamp that Swoveland said is one of her personal favorites.

In fact Swoveland said her mother has done so many works there’s simply not room to display them all.

In addition to being great artists Swoveland said her parents were also prolific square dancers.

“They have danced all over this country,” she said. “They’re amazing.”