Helen LaFrance (b. 1919)

Helen LaFrance

acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches (unframed)


Helen LaFrance has been an artist since her childhood on her family’s farm in her native Graves County, Kentucky. She is considered a self-taught memory painter, a category in so-called naïve or outsider art, and she also makes quilts and other textiles, animal carvings and dolls. Her works are in the collections of media mogul Oprah Winfrey and artist Red Grooms, as well as many institutions including the Van Nelle collection of tobacco art in Holland and the Filson Historical Society in Louisville. She has been exhibited all over the Commonwealth of Kentucky, from Mayfield to Murray to Owensboro to Bowling Green, and in New York City and Chicago. She has been featured in documentaries and publications such as Kathy Moses’ Outsider Art of the South (Schirmer Books, 1999). She documents her life as lived as an African-American woman through almost all of the 20th century.