Baptism By Flood

Willie Birch's art celebrates African roots and the vibrant life of New Orleans, before and after Katrina

November 05, 2006|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,[Sun Art Critic ]

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans last year, floodwaters swirled through the city's breached levees, shearing off the branches of hundreds of ancient oak trees and leaving them stranded on porches and lawns or atop the roofs of collapsed buildings.

WILLIE BIRCH: EXODUS, REVELATION AND REALITY; CELEBRATING FREEDOM: THE ART OF WILLIE BIRCH / / Thursday through Dec. 17, Decker and Meyerhoff galleries of the Fox Building, Maryland Institute College of Art, 1303 Mount Royal Ave. / / 410-225-2300 or / news

Willie Melvin Birch


Nov. 26, 1942, in New Orleans


New Orleans public schools; bachelor's degree, Southern University, New Orleans; master's degree, Maryland Institute College of Art


Divorced. Four children, ages 27 to 36, plus five grandchildren.

Works in museum collections:

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Temple University

Philosophy of life:

"I always felt it would take me a little longer to get out there, because I just never compromised how I wanted to work or what I wanted to do. My work deals with African cultural retentions, and it really fits in better with African and Caribbean art than with the Western canon. But as we move forward, now all of a sudden it looks as if it's becoming more acceptable."

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