Mona Boulware Webb was born in Houston in 1914 as Nevelle Ruth Boyce. She studied to be a nurse, married, and started a family. However, the murder of Emmett Till, would cause her to leave Texas and move to Mexico, in search a safe place to raise her sons. After traveling the world for many years, in the sixties she moved to Madison and settled on Williamson street. She called her two story house the Wayhouse of Light and until her death in 1998 she was known as the Goddess of Willy Street. The were efforts to save her home as a museum but unfortunately the weight of the large sculptures proved to be too much for the building and it was all dismantled and moved into storage. Years later, her daughters donated nearly 130 paintings and sculptures to Edgewood College.
In this edition of Radio Chipstone, contributor gianofer fields speaks with David Wells, Director of the Edgewood College Gallery, about the works of the Goddess of Willy Street.
About the Host:
gianofer (JON nah fer) fields is an Art Historian and Material Culture contributor and curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is hosted by the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and funded by the Chipstone Foundation; a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.
About the Guest:
David Wells is Gallery Director at Edgewood College in charge of the art gallery exhibition program and college collections since August 2013. He previously served as Executive Director of Edenfred, the creative residency program of the Terry Family Foundation from 2004 through 2010. Wells also serves as Director of Ernest Hüpeden’s Painted Forest and Study Center, Edgewood College’s restored folk art site in Valton, WI.
Image: Sculpture by Mona Webb. Image courtesy of the Edgewood College Gallery. Source: Promega Art Showcase. To read more about Mona Webb, see her artist entry on the American Folk Art Society website or watch Niels Lawrence Nielsen’s documentary The Gods of Beauty on Vimeo.
This segment comes from the Radio Chipstone Archives on WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio. See here.