Sunday, April 05, 2009

Liberian Artist H. Wantue Major

Originally posted 10/29/07--I am adding an update. I've had several hits recently from people searching for Wantue's art, and at least one search was for how to purchase his art. I would be happy to put you in touch with Wantue if you are interested in seeing his work or in purchasing or commissioning something. Just leave me a comment or email me directly. Also, the Sage Moon Gallery has closed it's location on the Downtown Mall according to this article from December, 2008. I haven't found out whether they have opened up somewhere else yet.

I am fortunate to know, through my parents, an extremely talented local artist, who came to the US in the late 1990's. His name is H. Wantue Major. My parents met him when they were posted in Monrovia, Liberia, for the Foreign Service. They saw how fantastic his art was and started building a collection of his work there, and continue to do so today. Wantue currently has his artwork exhibited at the Sage Moon Gallery on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville.

This is some of his art, which I own (all images are copyrighted by the artist):

Wantue's Art

From his flyer for the Sage Moon display:

Hoover Wantue Major

I was born and raised in Liberia, West Africa and taught myself art.

I am a realist, a surrealist, an abstract artist, a cubist, a watercolorist, an impressionist, an illustrator, and a cartoonist.

My art hangs in private and public collections in Africa, Europe, North America, the Middle East, Australia, and East Asia.

I have mounted exhibits in Liberia; Charlottesville, VA; Washington, DC; Minneapolis, MN; Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland.


From 1990 to 1999, I conducted art classes for children and adults in Liberia and America using any available venue, from refugee camps to college classrooms. I developed the students' pictorial appreciation and skill. Using art as a detraumatizing therapy, I taught refugee children and traumatized adults love, forgiveness, tolerance, and peace.

2001-02: Appointed Visiting Scholar, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
1999: Taught art part-time at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Charter School, DC.
1981-97: Layout artist, art editor, political cartoonist at Liberian newspapers.
1993-97: Developed curriculum, designed and produced materials for United Nations on peace, disarmament, free and fair elections, and health, in Liberia.
1992-97: Member and Leader, New Breed Painters, Liberia.
1979-91: Graphic artist and textbook illustrator, Liberian Ministry of Education.
1988-89: Workshop Director, African-American Development Assoc., Liberia.

There is another example of Wantue's art here, at Mano River Resources.

The New York Times has an interesting article titled Y'all Hear? African English with a Dixie Drawl, on Liberian English, in which Wantue's cartoon strip is mentioned. He was both the political cartoonist and the layout editor for The Inquirer (independent Monrovian newspaper).

Wantue's life in Liberia during the civil war was not easy, as was the case for the vast majority of the population. Over 200,000 people died during the turmoil, in a country with a population today of just 3.2 million. He and his family came to the United States in 1997 and were granted temporary residence based on the political and social turmoil in Liberia--Wantue's political cartoons did not endear him to warlord/"elected" president Charles Taylor. Wantue and his wife now have jobs in the Charlottesville area to support their family of 5, as well as numerous relatives still living in Liberia.

Wantue believes that art enriches life. He works in oil, acrylic, pen and ink, watercolor, and pastels. He feels compelled to create art that gives voice to his thoughts and emotions, and he does so in a number of unique styles. It seems that there is no limit on his creativity. I have seen first-hand how prolific an artist he is--his house is filled with his artwork. This is his way of expressing his feelings and hopes for humanity. If you live in the area, you won't be disappointed if you go view his art at the gallery.

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3 comments:

piscesgrrl said...

Wow, that's an incredible story - I'm glad you shared it! Wouldn't it be something if our Liberian friends knew your Liberian friends? :-)

Silvia said...

They might--it's not a big country. Ask them!

Anonymous said...

One correction I would like to make about your write-up on Wantue: his art is no longer displayed at Sage Moon Gallery. Anyone wishing to view/buy his art can contact the artist directly.