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 Inez Nathaniel Walker  (1911 - 1990)

About: Inez Nathaniel Walker
 

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Lived/Active: South Carolina/New York      Known for: naive figure-genre-outsider art

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Ad Code: 3
Inez Nathaniel-Walker
from Auction House Records.
Untitled
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from:
http://www.inezwalker.com/

Inez Nathaniel Walker was born into poverty in Sumter, South Carolina in 1911, Inez was orphaned at an early age. She was married when only 16 years old and quickly had four children. She then moved to Philadelphia to get away from the grueling farm work.

"Got tired of working so hard on the farm, weeding and hoeing," she told a reporter for New York State's "Correctional Services News" in 1978. "The muck would eat you up."

For awhile Inez worked at a pickle plant, but a strike brought that to an end. In 1949 she moved to Port Byron in New York State and went back to migrant farm work but at least the "muck" of South Carolina was missing. She lived and worked in several other places in New York, including Clyde, Savannah and Geneva.

Inez was imprisoned in the early 1970s for killing a man who had most-likely abused her. "Some of these men folks is pitiful," Inez told the newspaper reporter. It was while confined at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility (formerly known as Westfield State Farm) in Westchester County, New York State that she began to draw.

One day in early 1971 Elizabeth Bayley, a teacher of remedial English at the prison for women, found several drawings that had been anonymously left in a pile on a chair in her classroom and discovered they were done by Inez, a student in her class. There were 56 works in all, drawn on the backs of any paper Inez could find such as the prison newsletter, some prison evaluation sheets and forms. Mrs. Bayley was astounded by Inez's visionary talent, "Looking over them, I was struck by their originality, their humor and their amazing attention to detail," the teacher said. She brought her work to the attention of the art teacher who supplied her with drawing paper and sketch books, pens, pencils and crayons. Mrs. Bayley encouraged her to continue drawing and bought her works through the prison's arts and crafts department.

Inez became prolific and in a few months filled dozens of sketch books prior to her release from prison in 1972. Mrs. Bayley showed the drawings to Pat Parsons a local folk art dealer who purchased many of them for exhibition and Inez had her first show in late 1972. Pat Parsons then supplied Inez with first-rate materials: good paper, watercolors, pencils (both colored and graphite), ink crayons, and felt markers. These are reflected in her later work.

On this website we are featuring Inez Nathaniel's very early works. These drawings, all done at the prison, are from Mrs. Bayley's private collection. You can clearly see the typed information from the correctional facility mimeographed forms showing through from the reverse side. The subjects are usually women. The heads are large, with bodies proportionally smaller. The hair is elaborately detailed, and the drawings include lots of patterning. The eye lashes are an Inez Walker specialty as are her forward-facing eyes in profile drawings.

Inez drew the people around her, mainly the inmates whom she referred to as the "Bad Girls." The bad girls are often depicted in social situations engaging in the pleasures of drinking, smoking and conversing. Men and children only occasionally appear in her work.

After her release from prison, Inez lived quietly and simply in a small city in New York's Fingerlakes region, continued to draw and was glad to have the chance to show what she had done to visitors. She died in 1990.

Inez Nathaniel-Walker is included in the Rosenak encyclopedia and in Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980. Her work is represented by numerous galleries. Her drawings are in the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland, the L'Arcanie, Neuilly-sur-Marne, near Paris as well as in a number of museums in the United States such as the Museum of American Folk Art, the Museum of International Folk Art and the Smithsonian. Since the early 80's Inez has been included in almost every major folk art book and catalog that includes the work of black folk artists.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Inez Nathaniel Walker(1911-1990)

Born into poverty as Inez Stedman in Sumter, South Carolina in 1911, she was orphaned at an early age, married when only 16 years old and quickly had four children.  During the Great Migration of the 1930s she moved to Philadelphia to get away from grueling farm work.

For a while Inez worked at a pickle plant, but in 1949 she moved to Port Byron in New York State and went back to migrant farm work.  She lived and worked in several other places in New York, including Clyde, Savannah and Geneva.

In the late 1960s Inez was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and imprisoned for killing a man who had most-likely abused her.  It was while confined at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility (formerly known as Westfield State Farm) in Westchester County, New York State that she began to draw.

Elizabeth Bayley, a teacher of remedial English at the prison for women, found several drawings that had been anonymously left in a pile on a chair in her classroom and discovered they were done by Inez Nathaniel, a student in her class. There were 79 works in all, drawn on the backs of any paper Inez could find such as the prison newsletter, some prison evaluation sheets and forms.  Mrs. Bayley was astounded by the talent and bought Inez' paintings.  She also  brought her work to the attention of the art teacher who supplied her with drawing paper and sketch books, pens, pencils and crayons.

Inez, in just a few months, filled dozens of sketch books prior to her release from prison in 1972.  Mrs. Bayley showed the drawings to Pat Parsons, a local folk art dealer, who purchased many of them for exhibition and soon Inez had her first show.  Pat Parsons supplied Inez with first-rate materials: good paper, watercolors, pencils (both colored and graphite), ink crayons, and felt markers.

Inez's drawings are almost exclusively single or paired portraits of females.  Elements of self-portraiture are also evident in her figures, many of whom wear clothing, especially hats, based on the artist's own.

Inez Nathaniel remarried in 1975 and took her new husband's name, Walker.  She lived quietly and simply in a small city in New York's Fingerlakes region, continued to draw and was glad to have the chance to show what she had done to visitors.  She died in 1990 in Willard, NY.

Her drawings are in the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland, the L'Arcanie, Neuilly-sur-Marne, near Paris as well as in a number of museums in the United States such as the Museum of American Folk Art, the Museum of International Folk Art and the Smithsonian.

Source:
www.inezwalker.com

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