OL Samuels was born in 1931, in Wilcox County, Georgia.
OL Samuels left home at the age of eight. He worked on Georgia farms and later traveled to New York City to become a prizefighter. In 1962, Samuels returned to the South and worked as a tree surgeon. An accident in 1982 left him severely injured. He became deeply despondent during his slow mental and physical recovery until he remembered that his grandmother, a freed slave, told him for depression one should carve on a wooden spool. Samuels picked up some wood and began to carve. Today, he continues to carve, allowing his sense of humor and his imagination to dictate the often magical figures which emerge from the wood.
OL Samuel’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Md., and the Museum of American Folk Art in NYC among many others. His art has also been exhibited at The White House. He is featured in several major books on the subject of contemporary folk art.