An Artist of the Past Who You Should Know
William Ellsworth Artis, 1914-1977
He was blessed from the start with a surname that augured his talent and profession. William Artis was passing off the scene just as the IRAAA — then called Black Art an international quarterly (BAQ) — was entering it. BAQ was completing its first year of publication when William Artis was remembered in the Summer 1977 issue (vol. 1, no. 4). The writer of the unsigned remembrance probably was the journal's co-founder, Samella Lewis. The rememberance is re-published here with the photograph that illustrated it. The photographer was not identified.
Earth... water... fire...air. From the dawn of his existence, man has used these elements to express his joys and sorrows and dreams. And so we understand why clay was William Artis' medium through which he expressed tenderness and hope. To the world of art, he left a rich legacy of sculpture and ceramics.
To his colleagues and students, he left a richer legacy — the memory of his humility and kindness and deep sense of giving. As a leading member of the National Conference of Artists, he worked with vital energy to build and to strengthen its programs.
As a teacher, he used the Harmon Foundation Travel Fellowship and Lecture Tour award to visit colleges where he talked with students and encouraged them in the study of art.
As the sculptor in clay leaves his imprint for all time, so William Artis has left to his students remembrance of his creativity, endless patience and human warmth.