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Derek Webster

Derek Webster folk artistDerek Webster was born April 26, 1934, in The Republic of Honduras and passed away in December 2009.

In 1964 Derek Webster moved to the United States from Belize. He settled in Chicago and after years of working as a night janitor, Derek and his wife eventually bought a house on the south side of Chicago.  In order to distinguish it from the other row houses in the neighborhood, he began building a fence of colorful figures reminiscent of South American Carnival dancers.  They were large dancing creatures made of wood and found objects.  Derek, who was fond of gardening, interspersed them with a variety of garden plants.  Needless to say, his yard was the most unusual sight in the neighborhood and well beyond.

Derek’s janitorial job at a hospital provided a source of bright objects such as bottles and caps, and the driftwood he incorporated into his sculptures came from the shores of Lake Michigan where he loved to fish.

From embellishing his fence, he evolved into making individual figures often inspired by his memories of Belize.  It wasn’t very long before collectors, and galleries began to purchase his work.

Webster is well-known in the Midwest. In 1989 he was included in the prestigious traveling exhibition “Black Art – Ancestral Legacy: The African Impulse in African American Art,” which originated at the Dallas Museum of Art and traveled to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA.

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