Bruce Webb is a Waxahachie artist who is trying to get inside the mind of Annie Buchanan. Or perhaps, more specifically, her palm.
Webb is one of three resident artists currently featured at 100 W. Corsicana, an 11,000-square foot creative residency where artists and writers stay at to hone their craft. The building is a lodge belonging to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows that was built in 1898. Being an Odd Fellow himself, Webb said he was excited to have the third floor all to himself for his exhibit.
“The building had been vacant for many years upstairs, just kind of perfectly preserved beautiful space that was built in the 1890s,” Webb said. “I was really excited to do this project.”
Residents had to apply and pitch their exhibits to be considered for the residency. For Webb’s gallery, he decided to focus his exhibition on one individual – Annie Buchanan.
“She was born with a full set of teeth,” Webb explained. “That was something that alluded that someone who might be a clairvoyant or a fortune teller.”
Born in 1892, Buchanan was a clairvoyant who resided on the south side of Corsicana. Webb said that in 1900 at the age of eight, she predicted an ice storm that would strike the plantation.
“She was supposed to go out with her family the next morning to pick cotton,” Webb explained. “She told her mother ‘No, mama, we’re not going to pick cotton because there’s going to be an ice storm coming. There’s going to be ice hanging off of the trees.’”
Webb said the ice storm happened exactly as she said it would. Her mother determined at that point that she was a clairvoyant.
In the 1920s, Colonel A.E. Humphreys and Howard Hughes Sr. came to Mexia looking for fields to harvest oil. Somebody from town pointed them in Buchanan’s direction, and she led them to the Mexia oil fields.
“Both of these men were successful at finding oil where Annie said it would be,” Webb remarked.
Webb played a recording of an old interview with Buchanan during the opening reception of his exhibit on Dec. 1. Her words echoed off of the walls of the third floor as pieces reflecting her life and clairvoyance surrounded attendants.
“She would start off in with prayer, then she would preach, then she would get down to business and tell you what it was that you were asking her about,” Webb explained. “She passed away in 1962 from a heart attack in the middle of a fiery sermon. She was a passionate person about what she believed in.”
Webb’s exhibit, “The Seer of Corsicana,” features several hand-painted pieces with text inscribed on them. Included among them is a red-and-yellow hand with the words inscribed on it “I don’t read the lines on your hands. I read your blood.”
“She claimed that she could actually see the blood coursing from their veins,” Webb remarked.
Webb said he doesn’t consider himself a palmist, or even invested in palm reading generally. But he is interested in the cultural impact clairvoyants like Buchannan can have on a town like Corsicana.
“I’m just kind of interested in the whole idea about fortune tellers as a cultural study,” he explained. “Someone that has that gift of second sight, that person in a community is usually consulted. It’s a part of American folklore. It’s a part of small-town life.”
Webb said he would like to adapt her story into a book after his exhibit finishes its run. He said he’s still looking for residents in the community that might have known her that might give him more in-depth perspective into her mind.
“To me, Annie was such an interesting person,” he said. “She was fire and brimstone.”
Webb’s gallery is open on the third floor of 100 West Corsicana until the end of the year. To learn more about the exhibit, email Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org or go online at www.100westcorsicana.com.