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Willie Birch '73

Alumnus Willie Birch '73

MFA Art Education

Class of 1973

from: New Orleans, Louisiana

William Birch '73 is one of New Orleans most celebrated artists. He was born in The Big Easy in 1942, and grew up in the Magnolia housing projects. After briefly attending Southern University in Baton Rouge in 1960, he'd left and enrolled at Southern University in New Orleans and studied under sculptor Jack Jordan.

He longed to get involved in the civil rights movement and had joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1961, then served in the United States Air Force from 1962 to 1965. Afterwards, he had continued his studies at Southern University in New Orleans and graduated with a BA in painting in 1969.

After he'd moved to Baltimore, he received a full scholarship at the Maryland Institute of Art, and graduated with an MFA in Art Education in 1973. Two years later, he moved to New York and started studying African art, receiving numerous artist-in-residence appointments. He often draws inspiration for his work from the 7th Ward neighborhood in New Orleans, where he grew up. His most recent exhibit at the Arthur Roger Gallery, titled Southern Gothic: An Insider's View, featured paintings and works in bronze, and has continued his exploration of universal political, sociological and spiritual themes.