Willie Birch - Memories of the 60's

Willie Birch

This exhibition of Willie Birch’s work brings together a series of paintings and sculpture dating from 1978 to 2003 that focus on both the celebratory nature of the people of New Orleans as well as stories of their everyday life.

Among the works featured in the exhibition are Birch’s papier-mâché sculptures. In the mid 1980’s, Birch began using papier-mâché and created a series of sculpture that explored black identity and culture. This body of work was the first time Birch combined his fine arts background with his newfound interest in folk art. His idea to use papier-mâché stemmed from a visit home to New Orleans in which he came across a papier-mâché crucifix on display at the St. Louis Cathedral. Birch states, “Some part of me is always searching for a metaphor, and paper became a metaphor to me for what is fragile and what is wasteful in this culture, and the idea of challenging what is considered precious.” Also featured in the exhibition will be several large-scale paintings Birch completed in the 90’s and early 00’s. These paintings depict scenes that document African American culture in New Orleans and emphasize their body language, dress codes, and everyday rituals.