Gayleen Aiken

Gayleen Aiken (March 25, 1934 – 2005); self-taught American artist who lived her life in Barre, Vermont. She achieved critical acclaim during her lifetime for her naive paintings. Her work has been included in many exhibitions of visionary and folk art from the 1980s onwards. She is considered an Outsider artist.

Born in Barre, Vermont, on March 25, 1934.

In the early 80s Gayleen Aiken was discovered by Grass Roots Art & Community Effort (GRACE), a Vermont grass-roots arts organization....

Aiken produced paintings and drawings, that often combined narrative text and image, cardboard cut-outs, and book works; her themes include music and musical instruments, the large old farmhouse where she grew up, the lyricism of Vermont’s seasons, the granite industry, and the pleasures and ordeals of rural life. These themes are threaded together by a cast of characters, members of an imaginary extended family, which she called The Raimbilli Cousins.

Jay Craven's 1985 documentary Gayleen details Gayleen's life and artworks....

Her father operated a sporting goods and fix-it shop on the first floor of the family's large farmhouse. An only child, Aiken began drawing a group of imaginary playmates that she named "the Raimbilli cousins" just before entering grade school. By the time she was 8 or 9, she had made life-sized cutouts of 24 cousins—including Cousin Gawleen—using cardboard boxes from the outboard motors her father sold. She was teased and bullied by classmates, so her parents began home-schooling her in junior high. After her father died in the early 1950s, Aiken recalled, the family "got poor," the beloved old farmhouse was sold, and she and her mother moved into an apartment. Still, Aiken continued making pen and crayon drawings of the Raimbilli cousins living out adventures she dreamed of having—from dancing in the moonlight and playing pranks on parents...
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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