In the beginning, I knew I had something nobody else had. I wanted to carve folks that looked like me. The work had an African look to it, but it was strictly African American or just Black Art.
Mahogany Lady 1972
Afro Queen 1969
I was born into a family of woodworkers. My father had a woodworking shop in the back of the house. The family refinished and repaired wood furniture. My first steps as a child were toward a bowl of shellac. I learned woodworking at an early age, but the creative spirit took me to go in a different direction.
This creative spirit was induced by an interest in music. Creating work is like writing a song. The works grew up with me in the Mississippi Delta during the time of the Civil Rights Movement, reflecting an effort to capture the spirit of that time. Each piece represented a statement or comment for the record. The hard cold reality of now is presented in each piece.
My work parallels a career, a life, a continuous effort to be better than my circumstance. The abstract facial expressions represent the social reality of a people. I touch on subjects such as the blues, religion, equality, love, marriage, family, ho0do0, justice, hate, freedom, and spirits of ancestry.
The stories the woods tell. If trees could talk, they would tell us what they have seen, what they have heard, what they witness. The wood that once lived lives again. I try to do justice to the wood, myself, and to God in each work.
I am influenced by a child in church with one braid that won’t stay down or a blues musician who comes off stage and plays to a person; a dancer who dances all alone in a dimly lit café; or the paradox of justice in an unjust world. Someone has to comment on the world. I choose to comment through my work. I thank God for the Gift.
Wilson Lee, Jr.
B.A., M.P. A., M. A. T
The Works of Wilson Lee, Jr.