august 17, 1952 . houma . louisiana . usa

Welmon Sharlhorne would have spent more than half of his life behind bars. The fourth in a family of seventeen children, he was imprisoned for four years for theft at the age of 14. When he left he went through a number of odd jobs. Following a conflict with a client, he was charged with attempted extortion and sentenced to twenty-two years. It was during this time that he began to draw. Under the repressive conditions in prison, he had to show ingenuity to obtain something to draw, for example using the tongue depressors of the infirmary as a ruler. The clocks — symbol of time — are omnipresent in his drawings. “A clock is in each of my drawings because I would like to tell people, good and bad, that committing a crime is silly because it takes away  your precious free time.” Released in 1996, he lived homeless on the streets of New Orleans. Rescued by helicopter, he barely survived Hurricane Katrina. Recently, social services have found him a place for himself and he receives regular meals. His work has been exhibited since 2009.