May 13, 2014–January 8, 2017

Columbus, Ohio


Enamel house paint on Masonite

50 1/2 x 62 1/4"

Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York

Gift of Frank Maresca and Roger Ricco, 2008.24.1

Photo by Gavin Ashworth


“When I’ll die, my painting will die with me,” declared William L. Hawkins—a statement that exemplifies how the creative act becomes inseparable from the individual. This artwork, created a year before Hawkins’s death, offers a spiritual experience of disembodiment and elevation. Our eyes travel in a clockwise loop from the buildings at the top—which gradually lose their weight and materiality to become ghostly skeletons—swoop down through the verticality of the trees, and finally fly over peaceful landscapes and reach the sky.

Valérie Rousseau, “Untitled,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.