Art sold by the square foot escalates demand for Cora Kelley Ward’s work | Entertainment/Life

Editor’s notice: This is the second one of 3 tales about feminine artists from Louisiana celebrating Women’s History Month. 

Cora Kelley Ward

Back in 2011, no person gave the impression to care about Cora Kelley Ward or the artwork she created.

She was once simply any other artist that point forgot, and the Hilliard University Art Museum was once staging a sale of her summary artwork at low costs. Very low costs through the foot, in truth.

cora kelley ward portrait

A 1949 portrait of Cora Kelley Ward from the choice of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

That was once Ward’s most popular style: summary. Painting was once her sole hobby, which wasn’t the norm for a child born right into a Eunice minister’s circle of relatives in 1920.

The Southern Baptist minister was once the second one husband to Ward’s mother. She married him after he preached the funeral of her first husband, a employee within the lumber trade. He, too, died, and Ward’s mom skilled on the Acadiana Baptist Academy outdoor of Eunice to transform a Southern Baptist missionary, then married a 3rd time.

Ward’s husband, Simon Ward, additionally granted her a divorce so she may pursue portray. She in any case settled right into a loft condo in New York City’s Greenwich Village, which additionally doubled as her studio.

cora kelley ward painting

An untitled 1954 portray through Cora Kelley Ward. The portray is a part of the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center’s assortment.

Ward was once quiet, poised and movie-star stunning. But even those qualities, blended along with her prolific creativity, did not generate a lot pastime in her paintings. She stored maximum of what she painted, leading to greater than 1,000 items stacked in her condo at her loss of life in 1989.

She was once 69, and it is stated ovarian most cancers was once the reason. Nevertheless, her brothers and sisters introduced her paintings to New Orleans, the place it stayed 15 years in a garage unit.

Ward’s brother, Houston Badon, moved his sister’s artwork to his space after Hurricane Katrina. From there, the circle of relatives donated them to the Hilliard Art Museum on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The location was once best, taking into consideration Ward’s Acadiana roots, however the museum was once beaten.

“We had no financial or physical way to store the paintings,” stated former Hilliard director Mark Tullos. “I’m proud of the solution we drummed up. It generated a lot of interest in Cora Kelley Ward.”

The answer? The museum offered Ward’s artwork as reasonable as $2 a sq. foot. That is, after opting for 30 top items for its everlasting assortment, then donating others to museums all over the South, together with Black River College Museum + Arts Center in Asheville, North Carolina, the place Ward studied in 1950.


A photograph from 2012 presentations Hilliard University Art Museum Museum volunteer Sybil Garr doing stock paintings for the ‘Cora Kelley Ward: A piece in Progress’ exhibition.

Then, in 2012, the museum exhibited its choice of 30 within the display, “Cora Kelley Ward: A Work in Progress.”

“We wanted to establish provenance and documentation,” stated Tullos, now president and CEO of the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience in Meridian, Mississippi. “We wanted the new collectors to know why her work is important.”

So, whilst the sale actually wasn’t a case of tossing apart Ward’s paintings. It driven her into the highlight, one thing she have shyed away from in lifestyles.

“From what we read, she was a bit of an introvert,” Tullos stated. “In the art world, you either have to have a good gallery to promote you or you have to be good at promoting your own work. And I believe that she was too humble to do that.”

But the museum skilled attainable creditors through handing out published bio sheets on the artwork sale. So, who was once Cora Kelley Ward?

She was once an artist who regularly honed her craft in a time when a full-time artist occupation wasn’t at all times a viable choice for a girl.

She studied portray at Newcomb College in New Orleans, then won some extent in nursing and a grasp of arts level from Hunter College in New York. Nursing was once a assured task on the sanatorium close to Greenwich Village when she wanted cash to toughen her portray.

Curry Smith Home Curry Smith Home

The massive portray through Cora Kelley Ward (1920-1989) hangs above a settee embellished with pillows bought in Istanbul, in the house of Curry Smith, situated at 1469 N, Prieur St., New Orleans

Ward moved in inventive circles that integrated fellow summary painters Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland or even Robert Rauschenberg.

She additionally attended categories with Clement Greenberg, probably the most influential artwork essayists and critics within the twentieth century, and some of the first revealed critics to reward the paintings of Jackson Pollock. Greenburg admired her paintings and wrote a posthumous essay for the catalog for her ultimate display, announcing, “Cora was a dear friend and selfless. But I can confidently say that doesn’t sway me. It’s only with these paintings of the ’80s that I am able to hail her art without reservation. That makes me glad — regretfully because she’s not here to read what I write.”

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Ward was once additionally a photographer. A New York gallery as soon as hosted a display of her pictures.

And due to the Hilliard University Art Museum, her creditors are many.

“Part of our mission as a museum was to teach potential collectors how to build a collection,” Tullos stated. “We made it so the students at the university could afford the paintings, and I can’t help but believe that, 10 years later, a lot of students are proud of these paintings they bought for a few dollars.”

Still, Tullos believes that one among Ward’s largest achievements was once turning into an summary painter in a time when the sphere was once ruled through males.

“Women weren’t taken seriously back then,” he stated. “But she never let that stop her.

Clyde Connell

Louisiana sculptor Clyde Connell didn’t let society’s views on women stop her either. Connell’s work also ventured into a form of abstraction.

“Clyde Connell was once identified for her totems,” Baton Rouge museum curator and consultant Elizabeth Weinstein said. “She was once smartly skilled and wound up dwelling in an overly rural house.”


Clyde Connell, who was once 80 when this photograph was once taken, presentations one among her items on the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans.

Writers pegged Connell the southern Georgia O’Keeffe. Others when compared her art work to the writing of William Faulkner.

Minnie Clyde Dixon Connell was once born on Sept. 19, 1901, at Wood’s Place Plantation, one among her circle of relatives’s 5 plantations close to Shreveport. Though Clyde is thought of as a boy’s identify, her dad made a maintain two buddies that they might all identify their firstborn kids Clyde. 

She attended Brenau College in Atlanta, then Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and in any case settled into marriage with T. D. Connell, with whom she had 3 kids.


Clyde Connell art work “Place of Winds” at Galerie Simone Stern in New Orleans.

Connell’s inventive pursuit did not start till her 50s, after a stint of civil rights activism thru her involvement within the Presbyterian Church and the Home Missions Committee of the National Churches of Christ. She visited avant-garde galleries in New York right now, the place she found out summary expressionism.

Meanwhile, Connell’s husband misplaced his task as superintendent of the Caddo Parish Penal Farm. The couple fell on laborious instances and moved to Lake Bisteneau.

“For three years I really relaxed, and it took three years because I had no desire to do anything,” Connell is quoted in Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ 64parishes.org. “One day, I looked around and I said this place needs sculpture. I began for the first time to do sculpture. It just all started out of me from somewhere.”


“Lake Stilts” through Clyde Connell on the Arthur Roger Gallery

“I think she used art as a way of expressing something inside of her, to convey her feelings,” Weinstein stated. “Her work is more abstract, these totemic forms covered in papier-mâché with elements attached that connect with the rural and environment in which she found herself in.”

They additionally specific her religious aspect.

“With all the prejudice that she saw around her, I think for her, her work was to kind of rise above all of that,” Weinstein stated.

Though Connell used nature to build her paintings, she stated its soul was once stuffed with the spirits of former slaves and their descendants who lived on her circle of relatives’s north Louisiana plantations. She spoke of 1 such inspiration, an aged black lady named Susan, who lived on one of the crucial Dixons’ plantations.

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Clyde Connell’s Creatures of the Hot, Humid Earth (1987). 

“She would take me on long walks down the railroad tracks,” Connell stated. “If anything had happened, like a Negro had been whipped, word got around. They all knew. Word passed quickly. She would just moan and chant over what was happening to people in her race. That made me feel my race was terrible. … My work represents those feelings.”

Connell was once in her 50s when she was a certified artist. Her paintings has been observed international and her nationwide awards are many. She died at age 97 on May 4, 1988, in Shreveport.


The Great Gator Group of Louisiana, artwork and sculptures Galerie Simonne Stern, 516 Royal St., New Orleans, featured an affiliation of six artists from Shreveport, from left, Marvin White, Jerry Slack, Clyde Connell, Lynn Gautier, Lucille Reed and David Horner.

“Louisiana had great women artists who were making in-roads and doing what they could,” Weinstein stated. “And what they were doing was great work.”

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