Wilson, Ellis

Ellis Wilson, born in Mayfield, Kentucky on April 20, 1899, and passing away in Manhattan, NY on January 2, 1977, was a painter known for blending Expressionism with Contemporary Realism. Initially limited to agricultural and educational studies at the Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute, he moved to Chicago at 19 to pursue art at the School of the Art Institute. During the Harlem Renaissance, he relocated to New York joining the Harlem Artists Guild and contributing to the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1940. In 1944, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, facilitating travels across the Southern U.S., and regular trips to Haiti from 1952 onward impacting his artistic vision. Wilson’s works were showcased in numerous national exhibitions, including “The Negro Artist Comes of Age” at the Albany Institute of Art and History in 1945, a solo exhibition at the J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville in 1948, and the Terry Art Exhibition in Miami in 1952. In his final years, Wilson experienced financial hardship and passed away at the Cornish Arms Home for Adults, laid to rest in a pauper’s grave.

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