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Title Larry Walker Oral History
Collection Oral Histories
View File View Larry Walker Oral History
Date 2009
Type Item
Catalog Number MOCU 003-001
Creator Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia
Extent of Description Original: Mini Digital Video Casette Tapes, (1, 2)
Converted to two .mov files for preservation (2GB and 1.8GB),
Edited and converted to single mp4
Compressed to .mov (3GB) for online publication
Scope & Content The oral history of Larry Walker was conducted on December 12, 2009 by Museum of Contemporary Art Director Annette Cone-Skelton, and filmed by Museum staff in the home studio of Larry Walker. Artist Larry Walker was asked to narrate his autobiographical history as an artist. Walker was filmed in two parts. The first half of the history (first tape - 50 minutes) was an exploration of his birth to formative years in New York, his education, work experiences and the memories that characterized and helped shape his artistic principles and choices.
Walker describes influential teachers in both public school and college, and significant periods of artistic growth such as the extrapolation and conveyance of artistic concepts from his studies to his labors at a local supermarket in Detroit. Some of the artist's systematic approaches to life are chronicled through an account of his experiences teaching 5th and 6th graders, and further exemplified in his simultaneous efforts working as an artist with multiple jobs, a new family, and completion of his Masters degree. Walker also sites the decision for entering on a career in arts education and illustrates his corresponding interest in administration. The first half of the interview ends with concern over what sort of legacy Walker might leave behind.
In the second part of the interview (tape two) Walker outlines the importance of his family, both growing up, and his own family, once married in 1958. Art was ever-present in the Walker household and it influenced the lives of both his wife and his children.
Walker briefly discusses influential artists such as Charles White and Raymond Saunders, and continues on to describe several of his own artistic work series. These include the Micro-scapes, Truck, and Children of Society series, followed by the remnant and Wall Series developed in later years. Walker reflects on elements in his work that recur throughout his career such as barriers, interior vs exterior space, duality in space and color, and the relationship of people to space. He describes a period early in his career in which he takes his family to Guadalajara Mexico to re-focus his work. Larry Walker closes his narrative contemplating how his own style has never had an emphasis on a particular subject or meaning, nor have his works told stories. His work exposes the relationships between elements found within his compositions, and in doing so, create an energy and life of their own.
At the end of Larry Walker's narrative, he is asked to ruminate and reflect on his experience as the recipient of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia's Working Artist Award, a recent residency program in which he was able to work and collaborate with other artists.
Biographical History Born in Franklin Georgia in 1935, Larry was the youngest of 11 siblings. His father died at childbirth and his mother never remarried. They were sharecroppers at this time, since the family had lost their land over the years. At age six Larry, his mother, and several young siblings moved to New York to live with older siblings. Walker attended public school and with the encouragement of a junior high school teacher he attended New York City's High School of Music and Art. After graduation in 1953, Walker moved to Detroit, where his ailing mother had moved earlier, to be with an older brother. After some time at a community college, where he was further encouraged by faculty, Walker attended Wayne State University and earned a degree in Arts Education in 1958 and subsequently taught 5th and 6th grade in the Detroit school system. Larry married Gwendolyn Howell in 1958, while an undergraduate at Wayne State in Detroit. His daughter, Dana (b. 1959) and Son Larry (b. 1960) were born in Detroit, but grew up in California, while Artist and youngest daughter Kara (b. 1969) was born in California but spent some teenage years in Georgia.
In 1963 Walker completed an MA in drawing and painting at Wayne State University, and shortly after was offered a position at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California where he was a professor and later chair of the Department of Art. In 1983, Walker move back to Georgia and accepted a position in Atlanta as professor and director of the art program at Georgia State University. Though he retired from Georgia State in 2000, Walker continues to enjoy a prolific career creating and exhibiting his art. His artwork can be found in many private and museum collections including The Huntsville Museum of Art, Philadelphia museum of Art, Florida A&M University, African American Museum, and the Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries to name a few.
People Walker, Larry
Subjects Oral History
Oral Histories
Artists, Atlanta
Artists, Georgia
Artists, Southern
Parent ObjectID MOCU 003
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.