William Rutherford

1864: Louisiana Battles of Civil War
Redwood, copper wire, acrylic paint  

The 1864 mask represents the battle of Louisiana. Color denoting. North and South, but Blue should be on top. The red and black represent non-whites that surrendered, and were drawn into the Civil War!

Kansas City: Cradle of Jazz
Redwood, 78 record labels, acrylic paints  

The crow mask contains real 78 jazz record labels with famous black musicians names. I’ve chosen Jazz,  because the art form is uniquely American Black and developed from field chants of African slaves.  Kansas City was the town up river where 2 beat ragtime rhythm from the South evolved into 4 beat Swing  time. The music continued North to Chicago and New York to become music with fast tempos or rapid  time called Bebop. American music continues to evolve and includes styles that do not rely on  musical instruments, just the spoken word, Rap! and new music of a style that emphasizes the new rhythms and repetition of the tune!  

Black Indian
White Cedar, Doug Fir, lacquer finish  
7”x 11”x 4”  

Escaped African slaves were welcomed into Native American Tribes and helped wage war against the encroaching European’s Western migrations.  

cut vinyl, paint, ink on acid-free board  
18” x 18”  

“Master, please, Master, raise up off me and lift your boot from my neck!”  

Have Mercy On Me
cut vinyl, paint, ink on acid-free board  
20” x 26”  

“Have Mercy! Lord, have mercy on me and set me free from this bondage and let me be human!”

My work is my contact with the world outside of the context of my insular life. I have sculpted and drawn  as long as I can remember, but I had no role models, no mentors for fine art. Portland, Oregon, where I  was born and raised, was a very segregated, place. I am African American, raised by political activists, who fought the freedom wars, all of their lives.  

Expressive fine art was and is always living in my mind and at times, in surges of effort, I produced quantities of work and just as suddenly, I would deny my creative self and with admitted anger, stop. I did not sculpt or paint for over 20 years, returning to myself in 1995. I am older now, and hopefully wiser. I know that art is me and I am art. I know that it is something I can do without feeling outside of life. My  early work was often angry, resentful and filled with darkness. I am currently producing work that offers expressions of my multi-cultural heritage without the anger getting in the way of the work. My focus is still  outside the perfect view, elicited perhaps by being self-taught and viewing the work through cultural eyes.  
Working in wood affords a sense of peace and a spiritual depth. My work in wire, plaster and found objects allows expansion of expression with materials and styles. Drawing and painting affords me the  opportunity to document my worlds. I am still an emerging artist by all definitions of the words.