Willie Little, Artist and Storyteller

According to essayist, Bill Gaskins at Parsons the New School for Design, Willie Little is "the viewer, listener and participant of his environments, paintings and assemblages. The work is presented in a wide range of experiences, observations, and sights from this skilled, spirit driven artist, storyteller, editorialist and native son of the American South." The work celebrates the "unsung".


Willie LittleMultimedia, installation artist and storyteller, Willie Little, born in rural North Carolina currently resides in Northern California. Many of his works are rooted in the Southern traditions of North Carolina. Through his visual narratives, he documents a fading part of a rural lifestyle.

Willie received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He went on to receive three grants:

  1. The North Carolina Arts & Science Council Emerging Artist grant in 1994
  2. The North Carolina Arts Council Artist Project Grant in 1996
  3. A special grant from the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina. All three grants completed the large-scale installation Juke Joint

Juke Joint is a dynamic, interactive, traveling installation depicting his father’s illegal liquor house including studies of the colorful “patrons” of “Little’s Grocery” in the late 1960s. The exhibit has traveled to over a dozen venues throughout the United States. In 2003 Juke Joint traveled to the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Gallery where over 305,000 visitors experienced the installation.

Since 1999, Little has been honored with the following awards and residencies:

  1. The Cultural Heritage Artist of the Year Award (1999)
  2. The Arts & Science Council Creative Fellowship Award (2000)
  3. A month-long printmaking residency at Caversham Press in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. Little created social/political limited edition prints under the theme “Baggage”. His prints take a look a America’s ( Baggage)  sense of self-righteousness at the close of the 20th Century- and which is no doubt founded in the 19th Century America’s faith in “Manifest Destiny”-God Given Birthright (2000)
  4. The Chivas Regal Perspectives in African American Art residency and commission. He produced new work that was donated to the Afro- American Cultural Center in Charlotte. The work’s title “A Door to American Culture”*** is an examination of the black woman as one of the paths to understanding American Culture. The installation metaphorically embraces some of the roles and realities the black woman has played in nurturing the American experience. (2000)
  5. The Headlands Center for the Arts Residency in Sausalito, California (2003)
  6. The International Assemblage Juried Exhibition, Berlin Germany (2004). The exhibit included over 250 assemblage pieces from 65 artists from 37 countries. Little’s work won a third place prize in the juried show.
  7. The Pollock- Krasner Foundation Grant (2006, 2010)

Little's work is a cultural testament to Southern rural traditions, family dynamics and it identifies with universal experiences that cross racial and socio-economic lines.