HELEN LAFRANCE PAINTING OF FAMILY REUNION 2 X 3'/IN KATHY MOSES' NEW BOOK ON FOLK ART
This large oil on canvas painting of a Family Reunion is from the early 1990s by Helen LaFrance, an important self-taught Southern artist whose specialty is visually recording a vanishing way of life. Born in western Kentucky in 1919, LaFrance is the rare artist who is able to work deftly in more than one medium. She is an exceptional painter, quilter, wood carver, and Biblical interpreter. Her real skill however is her ability to connect with the viewer emotionally through the memories they both share. She paints scenes of a time and place that so many of us can respond to, for example this family gathering in the woods. These paintings fall into a category of American folk art known as Memory Painting. She has been called "The Black Grandma Moses." Quite large, 2 feet by 3, it chronicles the Afro American experience and celebrates a joyous occasion where people of all ages participate in the festivities. Today it is unusual for all the members of a family to sit down to a meal together. This painting is pictured in Kathy Moses' new book "Helen LaFrance Folk Art Memories," in collaboration with Bruce Shelton, with a foreword by American Folk Art Museum's Lee Kogan. LaFrance records childhood memories in this painting, reconstituting just how the fishing lines rippled the glassy pond, people arriving on horseback or by horse and wagon, children playing ring around the rosey, and women cooking supper in the glen as night began to fall......memories and activities that create a picture of life in the first half of the 20th century. The painting is signed lower right by the artist, who celebrated her 100th birthday in November 2019.
LaFrance died one year later in 2020 at 101 years of age.
The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY mounted a beautiful catalogued show of Helen's work running from August 30, 2022 through April 30, 2023 called Kentucky Women: Helen LaFrance.