Ruby Williams (born c.1930)

Ruby Williams grew up in Bealsville, Florida, a community formed by freed slaves in the 1860s. After a separation from her husband, she moved to New Jersey where she lived for twenty-eight years. While in New Jersey, she founded a mission and became an evangelist. In 1983 Williams returned to Bealsville and opened a fruit and vegetable stand that she embellished by painting colorful, bold signs. Encouraged by a fellow folk artist to paint pictures, Williams used paints left over from her sign making to create her own personal works. Using acrylic paints on canvas board, plywood, and unstretched canvas, she creates areas of flat color and then applies a black outline to delineate the figures. Her early works contained animal imagery but currently she includes more figures of people. Williams paints images that come to her mind and recurring ones have developed names and personalities. Most of her paintings include written messages. A solo exhibition of her work, “Casting Her Bread Upon the Waters: The Folk Images of Ruby C. Williams” was on view at the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida in 1997.


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