© Howard Finster/National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC/Gift of Herbert Hemphill, Jr/Photo, Art Resource, NY

The end of the world appears on an enamel-on-fiberboard triptych by the Reverend Howard Finster. The work’s title, handwritten on the panels, identifies the three scenes (from left to right): The Lord will deliver his people across Jordan, And moon became as blood, Ther shall be earth quakes. The highly individualistic works of the three American folk artists surveyed in this article express deeply held apocalyptic religious beliefs. Finster had been a jack of 22 trades—including Baptist minister, bicycle repairman, furniture maker and machinist—until one day in his 60th year he saw a speck of paint on his finger become a face that commanded him to make sacred art. Since then the Alabama native has created more than 40,000 pieces, many of them covered with free-flowing sermonic texts, and he has risen to national prominence, appearing on the Tonight Show and having his art featured on rock-and-roll album covers. Now 80, he describes himself as a modern Noah, on a mission to save the world (see his painting of Noah’s Ark), and “having more success than Noah…[who] didn’t get a one of them saved.”