Carter, William S., (Untitled)
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"Untitled" by William S. Carter
oil on canvas (1939)
William Carter began his serious training at The Art Institute. For a while he earned his room and board working as a live janitor at the Palette and Chisel Club; a private club for white only artists. (He was made an honorary member in 1986.) He also worked at the WPA, which gave him access to major galleries and a stipend. After that, he painted for the Black community, a patronage that included everyone from policy-wheel operators to preachers. During the late 30’s and early 40’s he taught art at the historic South Side Community Art Center in Chicago. While in his forties, he returned to the University of Illinois to complete a bachelor’s degree that he began 20 years earlier. Upon graduation he worked many years as a substitute teacher while continuing to create his own work.
In his 80's, Carter was still energized with an artistic spirit supported by a dedicated discipline. Once awake, usually around 5 p.m., the creative process continued, often until dawn. As Margaret T. G. Burroughs (founder of The DuSable Museum, Chicago) put it, “His strong artistic statements are clear evidence of a devotion that served the artist well, and drove him, for over 50 years. Carter spent his entire life fulfilling his childhood dream to be a painter. His life long search for beauty is especially poignant because of what he had to endure while following his muse. Carter’s presence on the Chicago art scene represents more than 60 years of creative visual expression. ... What a wonderful legacy he left”. To encounter a William S. Carter painting is an opportunity to experience the artistic energy and vision of a man who would not let his dream die.
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