Works in the Collection
Kermit Oliver was born in 1943 in Refugio, Texas. His father was a vaquero, and at an early age, Oliver discovered his talent for depicting the horses, cattle, and the other livestock of his childhood. He studied at Texas Southern University and was mentored by the acclaimed artist John Biggers. His work differed greatly from that of his colleagues. While many pursued the Civil Rights Movement as a primary subject matter, Oliver created complex, almost surreal compositions made up of highly detailed depictions of the flora, fauna, people of the region. After completing his studies, Oliver taught at TSU and further developed his work, becoming a prominent figure in the Houston scene and the first African American to be represented by a commercial gallery. In 1980, the high fashion company Hermès hired Oliver to design a scarf inspired by the Southwest. The relationship continues to this day, and Oliver has created 17 designs for the company. In 2005, the Museum of Fine Art in Houston mounted a retrospective of Oliver’s work, and in 2017, he was named the Texas State Artist for the year. The artist currently resided in Waco, Texas.