Texas Folk Art features the spirited work of some of the state’s most original painters and sculptors, including H. O. Kelly, Reverend Johnnie Swearingen, Velox Ward, and Clara McDonald Williamson, among others. Developing their own styles, these artists were unfettered by the conventions of academic training and traditional guidelines of art making. Lively storytelling was their primary focus, and they used any pictorial means necessary to create animated narratives about working, playing, and worshipping in Texas.
Because their subject matter most often derives from personal experiences, these artists created scenes reminiscent of Texas’s past. Kelley, Ward, and Williamson, for instance, depicted scenes of rural life, daily chores, and family and community rituals that they recalled from their youth. These paintings are more than autobiographical memories; they are historical reminders of the state’s rural past and evolving identity.