May Artist of the Month – FRANKLIN WILLIS
Franklin was born and raised in Longview, Texas. From the early age of his youth he was always drawn to art. In sixth grade, Franklin visited the Longview Museum of Art and was amazed at how people used drawings and paintings to reflect the world around them. During a visit to the museum, he was allowed to assist in the taking down of a show and installation of a new exhibit. Touching the frames of paintings and drawings pointed Franklin to a dream that has encompassed his entire life. From that point forward Franklin had to be an artist.
Franklin set high academic goals. In 1982 he was awarded the L’louise Graham Art Scholarship via the Kilgore College Art Symposium, in 1985 the Ben F. Vaughan Memorial Scholarship at Corpus Christi State University (Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Texas) and in 1987 the Michigan Merit Fellowship at the University of Michigan. Franklin’s college years culminated with a 1989 Fulbright Grant to Germany. His time in school was a period of enlightenment, motivation, and a time to question, debate, and analyze creative expression.
Franklin has received several awards to pursue his art including the Anne Giles Kimbrough Award from the Dallas Museum of Art, an artist grant from the Michigan Council of the Arts, Organized Research grants and Faculty Development grants from Northern Arizona University and the Carroll Harris Sims Purchase Award from the African-American Museum in Dallas, Texas.
Franklin’s art has always been centered on human emotions and self reflection. During his early years in east Texas, Franklin’s art consisted of drawing and rendering. During his time in South Texas, Franklin’s work expanded to printmaking and oil painting. By the time he arrived to Michigan and produced artwork abroad, Franklin was totally focused on the human figure as a form of abstraction.
Today, Franklin’s art is a comprised of still-life’s and landscapes. His most recent paintings are oil on canvas depicting snapshots of the persona of life. Franklin’s art is in several permanent collections. In the past four years the most recent collectors include The African American Museum of Art in Dallas,Texas, the Tyler Museum of Art in Tyler, Texas, The City of Phoenix/Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona, and Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Franklin is a tenured professor at Northern Arizona University and lives with his wife Coconino County Supervisor Liz Archuleta and their son Demitrius Michael in Flagstaff, Arizona near the Grand Canyon. Franklin’s artwork will be on display at the Powell Museum through the month of May, 2013.