WILLIE WHITE
1908 - 2000

 

Willie White was born in 1908 near Cranfield, Mississippi. His parents were sharecroppers and Willie joined them in the fields after the third grade. In 1929 he left home to work on a Mississippi River quarter boat which repaired and maintained the river's levees. He also worked as a porter on the riverboats. Willie eventually moved to New Orleans where he worked as a waiter, barber, nightclub janitor and occasional sign painter. It was not until the 1950s that White’s interest in painting truly developed through observation of artists working in the French Quarter. His first paintings were created with house paint; however, by the ’60s, he had transitioned almost exclusively to using felt-tip markers on poster board. In the 1960's White began decorating his front porch with his artwork. Drawing inspiration from television, his own dreams and his life experiences he created colourful scenes which often included a variety of creatures such as birds and horses, along with flowers and plants such as watermelons. A cross is sometimes central to the composition. His use of bold cross hatching interrupts the broad planes of color and repetitive geometric forms, providing additional texture.

Willie White eventually became known to art collectors in New Orleans and beyond. After White suffered a stroke. he did not mix colors and only used a few primary colors. Willie White died in the year 2000 following a series of strokes. Willie White's art is included in many private and public collections, notably the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and The New Orleans Museum of Art.


 

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