Leslie Lovell, Savannah GA

Will Thorp - Folk Art

Will Thorp is a memory painter, turning to his childhood memories for inspiration. Will’s paintings depict the men and women he remembers from his youth, people he has read about, people who inhabit the area he lives in, or from his imagination. He primarily uses latex on wood and tin for his paintings.

In the 1950s  when Ringling’s Congress of Freaks (later changed to Congress of Strange People) came to Rocky Mount for their annual visit, the young Thorp was a regular visitor. Wanting to get to know the men and women featured in the posters and ads as real people and not just sideshow acts, he sought them out for conversation and friendship. Those youthful impressions made an impact which he draws upon for many of his paintings

Thorp lives in the Sea Islands of South Carolina but he grew up in the tobacco country of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. During the childhood summers spent in Naga Head, one of his father’s good friends introduced him to fishing and crabbing. It was then that he decided that the life of a fisherman was “more fun than being a lawyer.” His life’s path was selected.

Thorp relies on crabbing and fishing for an income. Will says, “he will paint as long as it provides comfort, continues to feel good and makes me or someone else laugh.”