Helen LaFrance: Painting From Memory

Church Picnic; Helen LaFrance

Think twice and see it once. Think you’re right and know you’re right before you do something. I like to have people see what I see, the way I see it. I try to see through a thing.

We begin this week with news of the extraordinary “memory paintings” of Helen LaFrance, a self-taught Kentucky artist who has spent a life painting, and, at the age of 93, is still producing vibrant work from a dayroom-studio in her nursing home. 


Here’s Kathy Moses Shelton, author of Helen LaFrance: Folk Art Memories and Outsider Art of the South writing in Nashville Arts Magazine on the work of Mrs. LaFrance:
In 1995, I had the pleasure of being introduced to self-taught Southern artist Helen LaFrance. An accomplished painter, quilter, wood carver, and Biblical interpreter, Helen LaFrance also has an exceptional ability to connect with the viewer emotionally through the memories they share. She paints scenes of a time and place that many recall but others respond to as well. On canvas, she transcribes the values and traditions she grew up with, the concept of family and church, the strong work ethic that was her model. These paintings fall into a category of American folk art known as memory painting. And memories, as we all know, give meaning to our own lives and to the lives of others when we share them.
We are also including below this fine video by the Oxford American that first introduced us to the work of Helen LaFrance; below, please also find a video produced in conjunction with her Kentucky Governor’s Award in the Arts.