Oleander, Alabama

In 1994 E. B. Hazzard claimed he had been kidnapped by aliens and taken to the planet Noolicalaki, where he was forced to marry an alien woman. From their union, Hazzard fathered two inter-galactic children. After thirty-four months, he was returned to Earth for reasons he could not explain.

In an attempt to be “reunited with his alien family,” Hazzard has constructed several “Alien Communication Devices.” The example from the Spelvin Collection is comprised of a modified tent pole frame, electrical conduit, hub caps, a folding metal cot, refrigerator shelving, duct tape, a six-volt battery, and over 300 flattened tin cans. Hazzard claimed to have received communications from his wife on Noolicalaki, but reported he was unable make the device properly transmit his messages. His fifth and final design employed three car batteries, which induced his fatal heart attack.

Though never institutionalized, it is likely that E. B. Hazzard was schizophrenic. His contraption recalls the perpetual motion machines of Heinrich Müller created while he was a patient at an asylum in Switzerland during the early 20th century. Like Müller, Mr. Hazzard regarded himself as more of an engineer than an artist.

Of the artists in this collection, Hazzard is most closely aligned with Jean Debuffet’s concept of “art brut.” Debuffet has claimed that “madness is a positive value, a fertile and precious resource... something invigorating and desirable.” E. B. Hazzard and his devices seem to fall into this category.

George Spelvin was a good judge of character from his years of investigating insurance fraud. He believed that Hazzard was just a prankster and not psychologically unstable. As Mr. Spelvin was fond of saying, “E. B. had an imagination that was out of this world.”