8. WILLIE BIRCH
Stop Urban Removal, 1985, 14’ x 12
A native of New Orleans, Willie participated in the civil rights movement as a teen. Arriving in New York City in 1975, he settled in Loisaida on East 7th Street. He recalls it was “like going into a war zone. People were struggling and living in situations they couldn’t escape. Housing was a big problem. People were
displaced, profit taking precedence over people. I, too, felt I could be one step from being homeless. It was important to do something with the community.”
In his signature style of presenting narrative through geometry, repetition, spacing, and proportion, Willie shows residents
demonstrating against gentrification and for decent affordable housing.
After years in New York City, Willie returned to his native New Orleans. He continues to work as an artist, drawing inspiration from the daily life of his 7th Ward neighborhood, creating narratives that are emotionally connected to the people portrayed.