64 Parishes

Fall 2023

From Angola to the Smithsonian

Self-taught artist Welmon Sharlhorne

Published: August 31, 2023
Last Updated: September 18, 2023

From Angola to the Smithsonian

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment

Welmon Sharlhorne, Untitled (Beaked Creature), ca. 1994. Ink on manila envelope.

Self-taught artist Welmon Sharlhorne was born in  1952, grew up in Houma and New Orleans, and developed as an artist while serving a decades-long sentence in Louisiana State Penitentiary for a single count of extortion. He used the tools available: mostly pens and manila envelopes intended for communication with attorneys. His initial sales were to other inmates; now his work is in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, American Visionary Art Museum, and others.