Artis, William (1914-1977) | Amistad Research Center
A sculptor who received a great deal of coverage in such publications as Time, the Christian Science Monitor, and Sculpture Review, remained decidedly unaffected by his publicity. He spoke about art mainly through his works, which demonstrate not only that "Black is beautiful" but that it is sensitive, concerned, and humane.
A native of Washington, North Carolina, Artis received his artistic training at several schools, including the Art Students League, Alfred and Syracuse Universities in New York State, and Pennsylvania State University. Throughout a long teaching career, he was also a prolific artist and the recipient of numerous artistic awards and honors. An exhibition sponsored by the Harmon Foundation in 1933 was the first one in which Artis participated, and his association with many of the foundation's subsequent projects gave them a different perspective.
Artis' compositions reflect his personality. They are not political or social, nor do they express current problems of any kind; rather, they are profound statements of human aspirations. A deep concern for human beings is seen, for example, in his sensitive treatment of form: his sculptures seem to breathe, and the essence of gentle life flows from each base through to the highest point. His approach to sculpture was an additive one, and each segment of a work comprises the same sense of life exhibited by the whole.