O.L. SAMUELS O.L. Samuels Main < BACK

In 1931, O.L. Samuels was born in Wilcox County Georgia. His father was West Indian and took his wife's name to become a U.S. citizen. Not learning how to read and write, O.L. left home at the age of eight to work as a pineraker, on Georgia farms, and for the railroad. He traveled to Florida and then to New York, where he boxed professionally as a middleweight. He worked until in 1982 as a tree surgeon, when a falling tree crushed his skull and legs. O.L. fell into a deep depression during this time. The words his great great grandmother, a freed slave, told him long ago finally pulled him out of his sadness. She told him that when a person became sad he could carve on a spool and it helped.

O.L. took her advice and picked up some wood and started hand-carving wood. Although he is colorblind, he paints his carvings and he says the colors seem to match up. He combines paint, glitter, sawdust, and glue into a secret formula, which he warms on the stove, and applies to his wood sculptures. O.L. explains, "They ask me why I use so many colors and I say I want to be sure I get the right one".

The artist's subjects include people, a menagerie of animals, real and imagined, such as mules, alligators, snakes, dogs, turkeys, and imaginative automobiles. In 1993, O.L.'s work was featured in the exhibition, "Unsigned, Unsung" at Florida State University, and in 1994 he mounted a solo show at the Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia. His works are in several permanent museum collections, including the Arkansas Arts Center and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and in many private collections.

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