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Corazones de ​Papel (Paper Sweethearts) 48” x 60” Oil on wood panel (See Website for color image of Corazones de Papel)

A Celebration and Tribute to Eight Remarkable Self-Taught Artists;

1. Adolf Wolfli – Bern, Switzerland – 1864 - 1930

2. Hawkins Bolden – Memphis, Tennessee – 1914 - 2005

3. Mose Tollilver – Pike Road, Alabama – 1925 - 2006

4. Bill Traylor – Benton, Alabama – 1854 - 1949

5. James Castle – Garden Valley - Idaho – 1899 - 1977

6. Henri Rousseau – Laval, France – 1844 - 1910

7. Judith Scott – Cincinnati, Ohio – 1943 - 2005

8. Martin Ramirez – Tepatitlan, Jalisco, Mexico – 1895 - 1963

While painting Corazones de Papel, I felt each doll needed to have great significance. I decided to select eight of my life-long favorite self-taught artists and create a doll for each one in their honor.

The most difficult task was to paint dolls using my personal technique while still representing each artist. There were moments that I felt uncomfortable studying their work so intensely; it seemed I was inappropriately prying into their personal lives in some way. But how else was I to capture, in one paper doll, the personality of the artists? No attempt was made to copy their exact techniques as there is no way to duplicate their magnificence. Instead, I tried to communicate unique recognizable elements in their work.

Perhaps the circumstances, such as being born into slavery, being institutionalized, being blind, deaf, severely mentally handicapped, or physically handicapped helped motivated their creativity. Though most of these artists had limited art supplies, they became ingenious in finding tools that accomplished their goals. Martin Ramirez used the paper from the examination tables in the medical rooms at the psychiatric hospital to create many of his drawings. Hawkins Bolden used any type of scrap carpet, metal lids, broken hoses, and old wood to build his fascinating sculptures. Judith Scott used objects that were available to her at a center which supports people with developmental disabilities to create her brilliant creations. Bill Traylor, who started drawing and painting at age eighty-five, used old pieces of cardboard and house paint in his pieces which now sell for up to half-a-million dollars.

I hope to have respectfully represented these eight dedicated, brilliant self-taught artists. During the creation of Corazones de Papel I wondered if these artists would have approved of this depiction of their work. Each artist’s greatness stands alone. It is my hope that by creating this painting, further attention will be given to these gifted artists. They give me hope and joy every day.

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