Bill Traylor | Artist Overview

Bill Traylor

b. 1853

Born enslaved, Bill Traylor spent much of his life after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation working as a farm laborer in rural Alabama and, later, as a shoemaker and factory worker in Montgomery. In 1939, at the age of approximately eighty-five, having never previously trained or studied art in any formal way, Traylor began making drawings and works on paper using gouache and other media. Though he continued to make art for the remainder of his life, Traylor was most prolific between 1939 and 1942, creating a body of work that offers a unique and rich registry of his life, experience, and insights.