September 20, 1879: Artist Patty Willis Born in Jefferson County


Artist Patty Willis was born in Jefferson County on September 20, 1879. A painter, printmaker, designer, sculptor, and art historian, Willis studied at the Corcoran Gallery School of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Pratt Institute.

After World War I, she traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East and studied in Paris. Returning to the U.S. in the early 1920s, Willis exhibited her work at the Corcoran Gallery and later at the Carnegie Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and elsewhere. During the late ‘20s and ‘30s, she was part of the art colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts, and exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Willis lived primarily in Charles Town. She was a member of the Allied Artists of West Virginia, a statewide nonprofit organization of painters, sculptors, and printmakers founded in 1930. She frequently lectured on the history of religious art and was a pioneer in the study of West Virginia art history, particularly her research on Jefferson County portraits and portrait painters. Patty Willis died in Jefferson County in 1953 at age 74.