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The Visionary Art of Willie Young

At first glance, you might think that the drawings in this exhibition are sketches for a new online
gaming version of Doom™ or the latest SciFi flick. Another inspection provides an opportunity
to peek into the world of an artist whose subjects rely on real-world visionary experiences and
contexts.

Willie Wayne Young is a Dallas native who began his art education, under the tutelage of
Chapman Kelley, while taking classes under a Dallas Museum of Fine Art High School
Scholarship between 1959 and 1963. Many professional artists exhibited and taught at the school
including Ann Cushing, Deforrest Judd, and Otis Dozier. For the next three years, Willie’s
fledgling artistic career began to take shape through exposure to other visiting artists like Elaine
de Kooning, Hobson Pittman, Ben Kamihira and David DeLong. Later, Heri Bert Bartscht, Perry
Nichols, Franklin Drake, Larry Van Haren, and Octavio Medellin all influenced his development
as an artist.

Early in his career, Willie began to turn his focus on the simple observation of his environment.
Trees, flowers, cracks in walls, sidewalks, and other anomalies in nature infused his work with a
depth of vision that was innovative. His first drawing instructor, Orval Browning, showed Willie
how to shade his forms toward a greater degree of three-dimensionality. Thus, the drawings in this
exhibition reveal attention to detail and shading and a conscious relationship between form and
the surrounding space.

Since 1959, Willie Young has produced drawings that challenge the imagination as well as the
planar space in which they reside. They offer a glimpse into a very personal world that beckons a
search for meaning in the twig and bone-like forms, fractured landscapes, and dancing acorns that
float on the paper’s surface. Some shapes move and twist as if uncomfortable in their space. Others
are simply static and closed, commanding attention in their intricate line detail and shading. Yet,
other forms quite eloquently, and deliberately, reach out as if trying to communicate on very
intimate level with the viewer.

Willie Young’s exhibition history includes: Atelier Chapman Kelley, Dallas, TX; Goldie Paley
Gallery at Moore College of Art Philadelphia, PA; Ricco Maresca Gallery, New York, NY; Webb
Gallery, Waxahachie, TX; Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL; New Museum of Contemporary
Art, New York, NY; The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ; and the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery,
Atlanta, GA.

The collection of drawings in this exhibition spans 31 years, from 1977 through 2008, and is only
a fraction of the total body of work that Willie has been producing every day for the past 50 years.

Special thanks to:


African American Museum · Chapman Kelley · JD Evans Art Studio

This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Charles McAdams, Jr., (1937-2008)
whose love and admiration for Willie Young’s drawings provided the inspiration for this exhibition.

Edleeca Thompson, Guest Curator