He was born in 1943 and his work is featured on the cover of the second volume of Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art assembled by William and Paul Arnett and published by Tinwood Books in 2001. His paintings are exquisite to look at, his life instructive on the status of the outsider as an artist in the black community. To some degree, all artists are subject to outsider status within black communities, regardless of class identity. This phenomenon continues to be a mystery to me, about which I will have more to say later. The blues is one of the key themes for both his work and the documentary about him.
I watched a film today I really really like about the artist, Purvis Young called Purvis of Overtown. It is a documentary film about an African American artist who comes from the black community of Overtown in Miami. The film is a lovely, easily watched confection of documentary footage, original music by Otis Taylor, and the images of Young's paintings, which are a reflection of the environment he has lived in all of his life.
I am a writer and a professor of English at the City College of New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center. My books include Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1979), Invisibility Blues (1990), Black Popular Culture (1992), and Dark Designs and Visual Culture (2005). I write cultural criticism frequently and am currently working on a project on creativity and feminism among the women in my family, some of which is posted on the Soul Pictures blog.