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America's leading black artist, Sam Gilliam's painterly abstraction concerns itself with saturated color and a highly improvisational and spontaneous technique. Sam Gilliam has been recognized as an innovative color field painter. He was associated with the Washington Color School and Abstract Expressionism. Gilliam has redefined the techniques of these traditions and he continues to reinvent his ideas about making art. During the late 1960's Gilliam's interest in the flexible properties of the canvas led to his innovative manipulations of both canvas and paper and a series of works, which were created and subsequently hung or suspended without traditional stretcher supports. Gilliam's explorations in the areas of printmaking have been equally dramatic and have included the use of handmade papers and paper pulp, dyes, and paints combined with a combination of stitching flocking, embossing, collage, and screenprint techniques. In 1990, Sam Gilliam created a 1,500-yard print with Tandem Press founder Bill Weege entitled Fireflies and Ferriswheels, which toured to museums in the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America.

Gilliam was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and attended the University of Louisville in Kentucky where he received his B.A. in fine art and his M.A. in painting. Since his first grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1967, Gilliam has been acknowledged by a long list of public and private commissions, grants, awards, exhibitions and honorary doctorates. Gilliam lives in Washington D.C. and operates a large studio in the beautiful historic district known as Shaw. Gilliam is internationally known, exhibited, and enormously respected; he is Washington's preeminent artist.



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