The Artists in Bloom Festival is hosted by FAMU’s Visual Arts Program. As a part of this festival, Earl Washington: Unlimited Expressions of Life is being displayed in the Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Gallery from through March 29.
Washington is a FAMU graduate and a practicing artist skilled in various crafts. His main specialty is ceramics and raku, but he also does photography, collages and calligraphy.
His pottery work, wooden sculptures, and more are all on display on both floors of the gallery. One of his oldest and favorite pieces is a ceramic jean jacket that he created almost 40 years ago.
The Class of ’78 alumnus has been a practicing artist since he was about 16 years old, and has been in many art shows and exhibits, including a national black art show.
Washington does his best to ensure his pieces are affordable and is willing to work with customers on pricing.
“If I priced my art based on how long it took me to create, no one would be able to afford it. You have to think about what people can afford, and how much you’re willing to accept for it. I charge people thinking about how much I would want to buy it for,“ Washington said.
Washington took a hiatus from creating his artwork to do brick masonry and supervise construction to ensure he could take care of his family. After many years of working, he went back to his art after retirement and decided he wasn’t going to do any show before coming back to FAMU and having an art show at his alma mater.
“One of my main goals in life was to come back to FAMU and have a one-man show, thank God Dr. (Valencia) Matthews was able to make that happen. When somebody gives you a chance you’re just so appreciative,” said Washington.
Matthews, dean of the College of Social Sciences, Arts and the Humanities, recognized Washington’s talent from his photography work for their college’s 2014 reunion. Matthews works with Washington’s wife and heard more about his artistic talent from her, so she decided to reach out and see if he would be interested in showcasing his work in the gallery.
“Him being a graduate of the program, I thought it would be really great for him to come back and do an exhibition. I think it’s really important for us to support and showcase our graduates. Oftentimes we go outside of the community when there are people right here doing amazing things that a lot of people don’t get to see,” Matthews said.
Matthews purchased multiple pieces from the gallery.
“They were just stunning and beautiful, they caught my eye and spoke to my heart. The colors, the shapes, they just spoke to me,” Matthews said.