Marvin Francis (born 1960)

Marvin Francis was born in Detroit, Michigan but has spent most of his life in Kentucky. As child he lived in Delaware and later his family moved to the country in Tennessee where his mother was from. Subsequently, the family moved to a small town in Western Kentucky, which is where his father is from. When Marvin was thirteen he left home to live with his maternal grandmother in Tennessee. As a child Marvin loved to roam the countryside, to go fishing, gigging (a technique used to hunt frogs), and exploring nature in all its glory. Prior to his incarceration in 1986, Marvin served in the United States Navy. He also was a carpenter with interests such as spelunking and hunting arrowheads. Marvin is a self-taught prison/outsider artist. Approximately sixteen years ago, he took an art appreciation class while incarcerated at the Northpoint Training Center in Kentucky. It was there that he was first introduced to papier mache. Due to the limited materials available to him, he used newspaper and fashioned the paste by crushing ramen noodles and mixing them with water. He now uses glue and toilet paper, but his tools remain limited and crude: emery boards, tweezers, plastic knives, and sometimes the handle of a pair of nail trimmers. His work is extremely time-consuming with most pieces taking hundreds of hours to complete. His sculptures are included in the following museum collections: 21C Museum in Louisville, Kentucky and the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead, Kentucky and information on him and his work can be found in the archives at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. Due to the childhood abuse he withstood, Marvin donates the majority of the proceeds from the sale of his art work to programs designed to prevent child abuse and to treat children who are the victims of abuse.

Amanda DeBord writes in her article, Freedom through Expression – The Artwork of Marvin Francis
"To look at Marvin Francis’ art is to get a glimpse into the reality of life in prison. Constructed almost entirely of paper mache, Francis’ works depict the claustrophobia and seemingly endless days of incarceration. They feature inmates in cramped cages, clocks without hands, and loaded dice which always come up snake-eyes. Sentenced to life in prison in 1986, Mr. Francis uses his artwork as a way to send part of himself out into the free world."


We apologize that we currently have no work available by Marvin Francis at this time.

No Room in the House, 2008

Papier mache, acrylic with wood base and top

15" x 7 1/4" x 5"

KRS 507.020(2): Capital Murder, 2004

Papier mache, acrylic with wood base and top

11" x 6 1/4" x 8 1/4"

The Acorn (with cover), 2008

Papier mache and acrylic, 12" x 22"

The Acorn (uncovered), 2008

Papier mache and acrylic, 12" x 22"



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