B. 1952, United States
Welmon Sharlhorne is a self-taught artist who learned his craft while wrongfully imprisoned in the Louisiana State Penitentiary (“Angola”) for more than twenty years. While in prison, Sharlhorne began to created ink drawings using an assortment of “prison tools” such as bottle caps, washers, and bowls to create circles and curves, and tongue depressors to create straight lines. The only paper allowed to him was manila envelopes, which were provided for contact with his lawyers. His meticulous pen and ink drawings of imaginary structures, people, buses, birds, and night skyscapes employ geometry and pattern, evoking a sense of spiraling time, likely reflective of his seemingly interminable incarceration.
Sharlhorne sold his works to other inmates, who sent them to family members and others outside of Angola. They eventually made their way into broader circulation and gained critical and market attention. His work has been exhibited at the Collection de l’art brut (Lausanne), The Noyes Museum (Atlantic City), and the American Visionary Art Museum (Baltimore), and is included in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC), Collection de l’Art Brut and the American Visionary Art Museum. Sharlhorne’s work was selected for Prospect Five, New Orleans which has been rescheduled to take place in October, 2021.