The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass is a beautifully illustrated, lyrically written biography of a little known artist. Anderson, born in 1903, loved both nature and art and was able to make the two converge as he painted his natural surroudings and wrote poetry. Living along the Mississippi Gulf Coast Anderson had many opportunities to create art from his surroundings. Discussed in the end notes, Anderson must have suffered from form of mental illness or depression. At one point he moves away from his family, never again living together with his wife and children. The one thing he found helped him keep his sanity was his ability to make art. When Anderson was able to create, he felt better. Anderson died in 1965 at the age of sixty two from lung cancer. In 1991 a museum was established to showcase Anderson's work and in 2003 the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, honored Anderson. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and many of Anderson's works were ruined. Some have been restored, and the Anderson family has vowed to carry on.
The illustrations by E.B. Lewis are beautiful, soft watercolors. I also enjoyed learning about Anderson and his work. Art teachers could find ways to use this selection as well as classroom teachers. This is a beautiful biography. Click here to visit the Walter Anderson Museum website.