Virgie Patton-Ezelle Interview

Artist Virgie Patton-Ezelle, a native Clevelander, discusses her life and career as an artist. Ms. Patton-Ezelle describes the earliest recognition of her artistic ability and its impact on her identity. She notes individuals who encouraged her to pursue art as a professional, especially her teacher at John Hay High School, Mrs. Shidoba; artist John Ferguson of Karamu House; her instructors at the Cleveland Insitute of Art, including artists Paul Travis and John Tyrell; and arts patron Richard Sherra. Patton-Ezelle also describes her work for the Finished Art Department at American Greetings Corporation, select exhibits of her work, and the attraction of New York City to artists in smaller markets such as Cleveland. The artist describes her creative process, as well as the themes, composition, color, and materials used in her painting. Patton-Ezelle also describes the meaning of spirituality and race in her life and art. Also noteworthy is Patton-Ezelle’s recollection of her family experience during the Great Depression, and her appraisal of the arts projects sponsored by the WPA (Works Projects Administration). At the close of this interview, gallery owner William Busta enters the room to discuss an upcoming exhibition of African-American artists, entitled “In their Own Voice”, which is to include Patton-Ezelle’s work.