LaFrance, Helen – American Artist – Southern

Helen LaFrance (American, Kentucky, born 1919)

Helen LaFrance (not her real name) is a self-taught black artist, born in Western Kentucky in 1919. She prefers to paint memory images of the disappearing lifestyle of the rural South, always following her mother’s wisdom to “paint what you know.” LaFrance has also painted religious themes and floral studies in oil on canvas. She used to carve wooden animal sculptures and dolls and made wonderful quilts, but stopped because of a biblical interpretation.

LaFrance’s work is held in private collections such as those of Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Bryant Gumble and contemporary artist Red Grooms, and also in museums throughout the United States. She is featured in a chapter of Kathy Moses’ reference book, Outsider Art of the South, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1999.

Information courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc., October 2009.

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