Willie Tarver (1932 – 2010)

Willie Tarver of Wadley, GA is the son of a share-cropper, a welder, and self-taught artist. His unique sculptures and paintings are reactions to life in the South including religion, slavery, farm life, and the struggles of the working man. he worked hard all his life to be a successful provider for his family and it was on his job repairing cooling systems that he first picked up a welder’s torch and eventually retired from his factory job after twenty-five years. Following work to other parts of the country, Willie returned to his native Georgia.  He began his work as an artist in the late 1950’s, making cement tombstones, some of which can still be seen in the local cemetery. His early creations outside of the graveyard were large painted cement figures. These were created over metal armatures that he constructed out of scrap metal which he welded and cut. Eventually the armatures become the art pieces themselves, as he experimented with finishing them off without cement. Now most of his available work is in metal sculpture. He attributes most of his ideas to Greek Mythology, or the bible, and sometimes voodoo from his heritage. He and his wife Mae now live on Tarver Street, because, he says, the only way to get it paved was to pay for it. He is busy constructing a garden of cement in his backyard. Willie Tarver is included in the permanent collection of the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, and in the collection of the House of Blues as well as many private collections. In recent history, Mr. Tarver has been in good company, exhibiting along side of Georgia folk legends, R.A. Miller and Howard Finster. His work is widely collected and has been exhibited at the Telfair Museum and is also on permanent display in Atlanta as part of the 1996 Olympic celebration called Tarver’s Folk Art Park and is on the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Baker Street.

Click on the pictures to go to the original site.
Sources Include:
Mikes Truck Art
Main Street Gallery
The Creative Coast
The Augusta Chronical
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