Celebrating Freedom: The Art of Willie Birch
by David Rubin, Hudson Hills: August 2006, 120 pp. (hardcover)
For the past ten years, Birch has been documenting the African American culture of his native New Orleans in large-scale sculpture and drawings that emphasize body language, dress codes, and everyday rituals. His guileless polychrome sculptures evoke both social history and emotion. His use of talismans give the viewer a window to another time, be it through old construction nails symbolizing power and strength to a small West African paper mach, stool that stands apart as a symbol of nobility. Dedicated to the children of New Orleans, this is the first publication to examine Birch’s career whose re-imagining of African and Southern folk art inspires thought provoking discussions as well as contemporary sculpture and design. It includes two essays and an interview with the artist, as well as color reproductions of key works dating from 1968-2004.