for It Jes' Happened
by Don Tate
and R. Gregory Christie
A self-trained artist who didn’t start drawing until he was eighty-five and living on the streets of Montgomery, Alabama, Bill Traylor was born into slavery in 1854 and spent his life after Emancipation working as a sharecropper. He moved to Montgomery at age eighty-one in 1935 and started drawing on scraps of cardboard in 1939, encouraged by a young artist named Charles Shannon who helped provide him with supplies. In the words of author Don Tate, Traylor’s life unfolds as a series of vivid events that Traylor would eventually transform into art. “Bill saved up memories of these times deep inside himself,” Tate writes in a repeated refrain. R. Gregory Christie’s naïve-style artwork is a perfect match for the subject of this outsider artist, and he introduces a second naive style to depict the pictures drawn by Traylor. Lyrical, literary, and wonderfully illustrated, this is a welcome introduction to an artist who, the afterword explains, is now considered one of the “most important self-taught American folk artists of the twentieth century.” (Ages 7–11)
CCBC Choices 2013. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013. Used with permission.
A biography of outsider artist Bill Traylor, a former slave who at the age of 83 began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life.
As an enslaved boy on an Alabama farm in the early 1860s, Bill Traylor worked in the hot cotton fields. After slavery ended, Bill's family stayed on the land as sharecroppers.
By the time he was 79, Bill was all alone in the world. Lonely, poor and eventually homeless, he wandered the downtown streets of Montgomery, Alabama. But deep within himself Bill had a reservoir of memories of his lifetime spent on the land. When he was 83 years old, these memories blossomed into pictures. Bill began to draw people and places from his earlier life, as well as scenes from the busy city around him. Today, Bill Traylor is considered one of the most important American self-taught artists.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.