Willie Little

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Willie Little is a Black multimedia artist and author. His visual narratives document a fading part of rural southern life while also tackling topics of racism and Black Lives Matter, Social Justice, and the childhood memories of growing up on a tobacco farm in Eastern North Carolina.

His memoir, In the Sticks, documents his years growing up as a poor, Black and gay child in the rural south.

He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay area and Portland, Oregon.

Little is an artist whose genius incorporates sculpture, painting, sound installations, re-constructed architecture, re-cycled memorabilia, and real-life stories. 

Willie pours out his soul for all to see as he relives growing up during a time of radical change. The common thread in all the work he creates is his examination of the manifestations of physical and societal decay in American culture.

Willie received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His solo exhibits include the Smithsonian Institution, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the Froelick Gallery in Portland, the Noel Gallery in Charlotte, and the American Jazz Museum.

Notable group exhibitions include the Corcoran and the California Folk Art Museum.

He also participated in The Hourglass Project: Baggage, an internationally renowned residency and exhibition program, which toured venues throughout South Africa, Belgium, and Mozambique; the work is archived in a catalog published by Caversham Press. (South Africa)

*His most recent exhibit, The Shacks my Daddy Built was featured at the Froelick Gallery in Portland, Oregon.



Willie Little Curriculum Vitae

Education

Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Awards

  • Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art  Black Lives Matter Artist Grant ,2020
  • Ash Street Project Ceramics Residency & Summer Session, 2019
  • Pop-up Residency, McColl Center for Art & Innovation, 2016
  • Haven Foundation Grant, 2012
  • Gottlieb Foundation Emergency Grant, 2012
  • Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant 2010, 2006
  • Special Grant, Arts & Science Council, 2003
  • Headlands Center for the Arts Residency, Sausalito, California, 2002
  • Creative Fellowship, NC Arts & Science Council 2000
  • Caversham Press Printmaking Residency, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa 2000
  • Chivas Regal Artist-In- Residence and Commission 2000
  • Cultural Heritage Artist of the Year, 1999
  • Artist Residency at Tryon Center for Visual Art, 1999
  • Artist Project Grant from the NC Arts Council, 1996
  • Emerging Artists Grant from the NC Arts & Science Council, 1994

Solo Exhibitions

2020The Shacks My Daddy Built, Froelick Gallery, Portland, OR
2019And Miles to Go Before We Sleep, Froelick Gallery, Portland, OR
2018Nodder Doll/Living Doll, Kinfolks, Froelick Gallery, Portland, OR
2017Rice Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
201610th Annual Black History Exhibition, Arts Center of  Greenwood, Greenwood, SC
2015Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2014In the Hood,  The New Gallery of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC
2011Totems to a Past:  Pounder Kone’ Artspace, Los Angeles, CA
2010Juke Joint: Diggs Gallery, Winston Salem State Univ
2009Juke Joint: YMI Cultural Center, Asheville, NC
In Mixed Company: California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2008In Mixed Company:
-Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte, NC
-Joie Lassiter Gallery, Charlotte, NC
2007Rice/Polak Gallery, Charlotte, MA
2005Rice/Polak Gallery, Charlotte, MA
2003,
2004
Juke Joint
-Smithsonian Institution, Arts and Industries, Wash. DC
-American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, MO
Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2002Juke Joint
-African American Museum, Philadelphia
-Center for Documentary Studies, Duke Univ Durham, NC
Black As…looking beyond the stereotype: Noel Gallery, Charlotte, NC
2000A Door to American Culture Installation
-(Chivas Regal Residency Commission) Afro American Cultural Center, Charlotte, NC
Through the Window Into My Grandmother’s Garden,
-Noel Gallery, Charlotte, NC
Kinfolks Installation:
-Tobacco Farm Life Museum, Kenly, NC
Juke Joint:
-Dallas African- American Museum Dallas, Texas
-Kansas African- American Museum Wichita, Kansas
1999Juke Joint, Traveling Installation:
Afro-American Cultural Center, Charlotte, NC
Charles H Wright Museum of African- American History, Detroit, MI
1998Kinfolks, Noel Gallery, Charlotte, NC
1997Juke Joint Traveling Installation:
Harriet Tubman African -American Museum, Macon, GA
Greenhill Center for the Arts, Greensboro, NC
McKissick Museum, Columbia, SC
Penn Center for the Arts. St Helena Island, SC
1996 Juke Joint Traveling Installation:
 Afro- American Cultural Center, Charlotte, NC
The College of Charleston, Charleston, SC             
Afro- American Cultural Center, Charlotte, NC
1995One Hundred Percent Natural,
Heritage House, Charlotte, NC
1994Slaves To Fashion
Supra Natural Style 1994, Atlanta GA
1993Slaves to Fashion
 Pfeiffer College, Charlotte, NC
Newberry College, Newberry SC
1992Slaves to Fashion
Spirit Square Center for the Arts, Charlotte NC
1990Girls In Basic Black
YMI Cultural Center Asheville, NC

Featured Artist

2004Andrea Schwartz Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Modernbook Gallery, Palo Alto, CA
Julie Baker Fine Art, Grass Valley, CA
2003Lew Allen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe NM
Noel Gallery, Charlotte, NC
Julie Baker Fine Art, Grass Valley, CA
1999Noel Gallery, Charlotte, NC
1993Cleveland Community College, Shelby NC
Featured Artist – Willie Little

Group Exhibits

2021;askdlfj;alsk
2020SF MOMA Artists Gallery, February 2021; Celebrating Black History Month, San
Francisco, CA
Making Waves,: Artists Speak Out, Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
Hamptons, Virtual Expo Summer 2020
UnGodly, Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Portland, OR                          
Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2019America’s Whispered Truths, Clark College, Vancouver, WA
SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Celebrating Contemporary Black Artists: An Exhibition at TPG Global, San Francisco, CA
SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Celebrating Contemporary Black Artists, An Exhibition at Asana, San Francisco, CA
2018Froelick Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2016NX/2 Quadratfuss Exhibition, Berlin, Germany
Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2015Art + Dialogue, Greensboro College, Greensboro, NC
2014Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
Evolve, the Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2013New Gallery of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC
2012Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2011Temporay Contemporary Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Sculpture Today: New Forces, New Forms, Frederick Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Michigan
2010Some Assembly Required, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Rice Polak Gallery, Provincetown, Ma
Past Forward, African American Culture Complex, San Francisco, CA
Infix: The Grammar of Insertion, SFMoma Artist’s Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2009Here & Now, New South, A Joie Lassiter Gallery, Charlotte, NC
Decade…10 Artists for the Center’s First 10 Years, McColl Center for Visual   Art, Charlotte, NC
Some Assembly Required, Sesnon Art Gallery, UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
2008Scene in America: A Contemporary Look at the Black Male Image, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC
2007Julie Baker Gallery, Nevada City, CA
2006Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, Ma’
Julie Baker Gallery, Nevada City, CA
2005International Assemblage Exhibition, Gallery 24, Berlin, Germany
Abstraction: The Poetic Visual Image, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA
Julie Baker Gallery, Grass Valley, CA
2004International Assemblage Exhibition, Gallery 24, Berlin, Germany
Common Ground: Discovering Community in 150 Years of Art, Corcoran Museum, Washington, DC
Ascension: A Legacy of African American Artists in North Carolina,
Diggs Gallery, Winston Salem State University
Rice Polk Gallery, Provincetown, Ma
War, Peace and Civil Liberties, Berkeley Art Center
Julie Baker, Fine Art, Grass Valley, CA
2003Old South/New South, Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte, NC
Gender, Tools and Technology, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA
Abstracts 2003, Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2002The Hourglass Project: Baggage, Caversham Press Prints, South Africa,  Alliance Francaise/French
Cultural Centre, Gabarone, Botswana
Frans Masereel Centre, Kasteriee, Belgium
Alliance Francaise/French Cultural Centre:
Pretoria, South Africa
Maputo, Mozambique
Capetown, South Africa
Durban, South Africa
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa
Roswell Arts Center, Roswell, GA
2001Black Face/White Face, Lew Allen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe New Mexico              
Myth, Memory and Imagination:
Hampton University, Hampton, VA
McKissick Museum, Columbia, SC
North Dakota Museum of Art
Arkansas Art Center, Arkansas
Memphis Brooks Museum, Memphis Tennessee
Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus GA
Baggage, Prints from Caversham Press, South Africa
Tryon Center for Visual Arts, Charlotte NC
The Hourglass Project: Baggage, City Gallery Chastain. Atlanta, GA
Home Grown, Celebrating Arts in North Carolina
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston Salem, NC
Like A Prayer: A Jewish and Christian Presence in Contemporary Art, Tryon Center for Visual Art
2000Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, MA
People, Places, Things, Lew Allen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Common Threads, Lew Allen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe NM
The Artists of Charlotte, Fayetteville Museum of Art, Fayetteville, NC
1999Myth, Memory and Imagination, Mckissick Museum. Columbia, SC
Residents 1999/2000 Artists @Tryon Center for Visual Art, Spirit Square Charlotte, NC
Annual Photography Show, Rice/Polak Gallery, Provincetown, Ma
Crossing Cultures,  Lew Allen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1994Recent African- American Art In North Carolina
Recent African- American Art In Traveling Juried Exhibit
Afro-American Cultural Center
Hayti Cultural Center Durham, NC                      
1990Freedom of Expression, Spirit Square Center for the Arts, Charlotte, NC
1989N. C. Printmakers Show, Art & Antiques Amusements Gallery, Charlotte, NC

Lectures/Workshops:

  • Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
  • Craft and Folk Art Museum forum with Betye Saar, Los Angeles, CA
  • Sesnon Gallery, Porter College, UC Santa Cruz, CA
  • Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte, NC
  • CCAC , Oakland California
  • Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA
  • University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • University of Capetown, Capetown, South AfricaBittney Springs High School, Nevada City, CA
  • University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA
  • Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University
  • Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC
  • Piedmont Middle School, Charlotte, NC
  • Northwest School of the Arts, Charlotte, NC
  • Afro American Cultural Center, Charlotte, NC
  • Tryon Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC
  • Cabarras Art Guild, Concord, NC

TV Appearances:

  • WLOS 13, ABC Affiliate Asheville, NC
  • Out of the Ashes, WTVI Public Television Documentary
  • North Carolina Now, WUNC Public Television
  • Assignment Carolinas, WJZY 46
  • South Carolina Public Television
  • WBTV 3 News, story on Hugh McColl
  • WBTV 3 News, Black History Month Showcase

Radio Appearances:

  • KXL, KXL, Speaking Freely, Portland, OR 2019
  • KWMR, San Francisco, CA 2018
  • KBOO, Portland, OR 2018
  • WUNC, NPR 2002
  • Radio Disney 2002
  • KERA, NPR Dallas, Texas 2000
  • Mike Collins, WFAE, NPR 1998, 2000, 2008
  • WSOC Morning Show, 1999
  • Todd Munce Show, NPR, Detroit MI. 1998

Collections:

  • Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
  • Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
  • Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. 
  • Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC
  • Ambassador of Madagascar
  • Jeff Warner Designs, San Francisco, CA, Hawaii
  • Peter Luder, Howard Kanini, London, England
  • Traveling Collection of Judy Norell,
  • Myth, Memory and Imagination (Washington, DC)
  • Bank of America Corporate Offices, Charlotte, NC
  • Jon D. Lowly    SF, CA
  • Betsy Schmidt  Sacramento, CA
  • Allison Knapp  SF, CA
  • Emily Leff   Granite Bay, CA 
  • Aynesh Johnson  NY, NY
  • Patty and Jeff Baird- Cedar House Sport Hotel, Truckee, CA
  • Sara Harris   L.A., CA
  • Lisa Eisenpresser L.A., CA  
  • Tanya Jordan-Taylor, Buchanan and Jordan Inc-Reno, CA
  • Shaye Whittlesey  Nevada City, CA
  • Wendy Whitson Asheville, NC 
  • Paul Geenty Nevada City
  • Danny Simmons, NYC
  • Robert Gray, Palm Springs, CA
  • Rick Wulff, Berkeley, CA
  • Dr. Nicholas Daniels and Dr. John Eckels, San Francisco, CA
  • First Charter Bank Headquarters, Charlotte, NC
  • Tobacco Farm Life Museum, Kenly NC
  • Afro- American Cultural Center, Charlotte, NC
  • Davis Steel, Matthews, NC
  • Museum of the New South, Charlotte, NC
  • Mary Tribble, Charlotte, NC
  • Jodie and Frank Turner, Charlotte, NC
  • McColl Center for Visual Art
  • Headlands Center for the Arts

Bibliography:

  • Karren, Howard, An Exhibit Makes Waves in Provincetown, The Provincetown Independent, October, 15, 2020
  • Driscoll, Kathi Scrizzi, Provincetown Galleries, Artists Speak Out About Unprecedented Times, Cape Cod Times, October 14, 2020
  • Larimore, Phillip On Willie Little: Proof of Promises Kept, Charlotte Viewpoint Metropolitan Ideas & Art, July, 2016
  • Schreiber, Barbara, Willie Little Takes on Tea Party, Klan in Exhibition, Charlotte News and Observer, September, 2014
  • Titcombe, Tara, Best of Winston Salem, US Airways Magazine, September, 2010
  • Kopp, Bill, Willie Little’s Juke Joint: A Slice of the 50s, Laurel of Asheville, February, 2010
  • Kopp, Bill, Juke Joint: Hookers, Batwings, Pigs’ Feet and Hair Tonic, Mountain Express, Asheville, 12/16/2009
  • Motsinger, Carol, Juke Joint Revisted: Interactive YMI Exhibit re-creates lost culture, Citizen Times, Asheville, 12/13/2009
  • Barden, Louise, The Darker Side of ‘Mixed Company’, South Park Magazine, 5/2008
  • Vance, Donna, Exhibit adds to our grasp of divisions, Charlotte Observer,1/18/2008
  • Singleton, Erica, Breaking Mythic assumptions, The Charlotte Post,1/24/2008
  • Richard, Paul, Smithsonian’s ‘Juke Joint’ Last Call for a Vanished South
  • Washington Post, 9/29/2003
  • ‘Juke Joint’ Exhibit Opens In American Jazz Museum, Kansas City Call, 2003
  • Lewis, Samella, PhD, African American Artists, 4th Edition, 2003
  • Dickson, Laurie, Ode To Southern Roots, Artists’ Interiors… Creative Spaces, Inspired Living, 2003
  • Lewis, Scott, ‘Out of the Box’ Artist Willie Little Gets Playful with Race, Creative Loafing, Charlotte, NC, 6/5/02
  • Maschal, Richard, Dolls Foster Study of Racial Stereotypes, Charlotte Observer, 6/3/02
  • Greenburg, Blue, Down Memory Lane in the South, The Herald Sun, Durham, NC, 09/02
  • Raleigh News & Observer, 10/02
  • Arts & Science Council Newsletter, 2002
  • Home Grown…Celebrating Arts of North Carolina, SECCA Catalogue, 2001
  • Lee, Heath-Hartage, Treasure Hunt, Charlotte Place, November 2001
  • Parker, Alan-Michael, South African Artists Depict ‘Truths’, Charlotte Observer, 08/01
  • Paterson, Tom, A Little Homework, Winston-Salem Journal, 06/03/01
  • Getting A Handle on ‘Baggage’, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/17/01
  • Maschal, Richard,’ Prayer’: Focus on Faith Through the Artist’s Lens, Charlotte Observer, 05/11/01
  • Like A Prayer: A Jewish and Christian Presence in Contemporary Art, Catalogue, 2000
  • The Hourglass Project: Baggage, Catalogue, 2000
  • Muller-Price, Debra, A Sanctuary for the Arts, Southern Accents, March-April, 2000
  • Swisher, Amy, Little’s Big Gift, Creative Loafing, 09/02/00
  • Brown, Derrick, ‘Door’ Opens for Charlotte Artist in Residence, Charlotte Post, Summer, 2000
  • Willie Little’s tell-a-tale art, Independent Tribune, 03/31/00
  • Downtown Magazine, Summer 2000, Winter 2001
  • Grant, Kandice, Willie Little, A Revivalist of the Rural South Uses Art to Spin Living Tales of Times Past, Cultural Calendar, 04/05/00
  • Higgins, Katherine, Little Draws from his Experiences as a Country Boy, The Smithfield Herald, 04/13/00
  • Simpson, Thea, Little’s Art Tells Family Story, Life on Eastern NC Tobacco Farm, The Wilson Daily News, 04/18/00
  • Fox, Catherine, Where Creativity Can Flourish, Atlanta Journal- Constitution, 01/09/00
  • Fox, Catherine, Charlotte’s New Devotion to the Arts, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 01/09/00
  • Dunn, Debra, Artist Fellowship Awarded, Charlotte Observer, 06/23/00
  • Norman, Bud, Art Display Celebrates Good Friends in Low Places, Wichita Eagle, 08/00
  • Kansas African American Museum Inc., and Kansas Art Commission & K.T Weidemann Foundation Present Juke Joint, Catalogue, 2000
  • Create Something, Charlotte Magazine, 01/01
  • Brown, Linda-Louise, Americans, Creative Loafing, 02/27/99
  • Myth, Memory and Imagination: Universal Themes in the Life and Culture of the South, Catalogue, The collection of Judy Norell, 1999
  • Miller, Hanna, Jukin’ Charlotte Magazine, May 1999
  • Lewis, Scott, Southern Exposure, Northern Light, Creative Loafing, 10/9/99
  • Residents: 1999/2000, Catalogue, Tryon Center for Visual Art, 1999
  • Juke Joint: A Community Story, Cover Story, North Carolina Arts Council Newsletter, Spring/Summer 1999
  • Arts & Science Council Newsletter, Autumn 1999
  • Haight,Kathy, Artsy Inaugural, Charlotte Observer, 07/11/99
  • Meadows, Bob, Exhibit Portrays Life on a Tobacco Farm, Charlotte Observer, 08/30/98
  • Brown, Linda-Louise, Praise Singer, Creative Loafing, 08/98
  • Juke Joints Jive at Museum, Michigan Press, 07/23/98
  • Colby, Joy-Hakanson, Multimedia ‘Juke Joint’ Pulls Visitors into the Southern Memories, The Detroit News, 07/3/98
  • Cohen, Keri- Guten, Sculptures Bring Juke Joint to Life, Detroit News& Free Press, 08/16/98
  • Pearson, Craig, Cultural Celebration, The Windsor Star, 08/14/98
  • Museum Seeks ‘Paradise’ Memories, The Monitor, 07/16/98 (Michigan)
  • This Joint is Jumpin’ (all Detroit, Michigan area, 07/26/98)
  • Framingham Observer
  • Garden City Observer
  • Westland Observer
  • Rochester Eccentric
  • Troy Eccentric
  • Southfield Eccentric
  • West Bloomfield Eccentric
  • Plymouth Observer
  • Birmingham Eccentric
  • Canton Observer
  • Livonia Observer
  • Colby, Joy- Hakanson, Artist Crafts a Slice of African American Life, Detroit Press, 1998
  • Moran, K- Michelle, Rural Aesthetic, Troy Times (Detroit) 08/5/98
  • Harley, Cathy, At Penn Center…The ‘Joint Jumping’, The Packet, Beaufort, SC, 1997
  • Toppman, Lawrence, Installation Evokes Civil Rights –Era Church, Charlotte Observer, 1997
  • Day, Jeffery, Gallery Exhibit Reserves Viewers’ Place at Juke Joint, The State Newspaper, SC, 03/09/97
  • Joy, Pain Meet in ‘Juke Joint’, Greensboro News& Record, 05/08/97
  • Marley, Dan, Hometown Hangout, The Macon Telegraph, 06/20/97
  • MacNeil, William, Crossing Cultures Provide Impetus for Art Show, Pasatiempo, Santa Fe, NM, 04/97
  • Santa Fe Magazine, 1997
  • Seawright, Sandy, Two Way Street, Creative Loafing, 08/15/97
  • Young, Jeri, ‘Amazing Grace’ Exhibit at New South, Charlotte Post, 10/31/96
  • Drake, Nicholas, Little Creates a ‘Juke Joint’ From his Memory, The Post & Courier, Charleston, SC, 06/20/96
  • Walker, Sherry, Pride Goes to ‘Juke Joint’, Pride Magazine, August, 1996
  • Walker, Sherry, Willie Little’s Juke Joint, C Magazine, Volume 2, Number 3, Cover Story, Spring, 1996
  • Meadows, Bob, Artist Brings his Childhood to Life, Charlotte Observer, 04/07/96
  • Mint Museum of Art, Catalogue, 1994-95

Other Experience:

  • Grant Panelist, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Portland, Oregon, 2020 
  • National Advisory Board, McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC, Emeritis
  • National Advisory Board, McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC, 2011-2015
  • Board of Directors, Tryon Center for Visual Art. Charlotte NC 2001-2002, Advocate for fellow artists, Strategic and Diversity committees