Kentucky painter Helen LaFrance turns 100 years old

MAYFIELD, Ky. (AP) — A prominent painter whose works capture the rural, small town culture of Kentucky is turning 100.

Helen LaFrance visited a church in Mayfield on Saturday to celebrate her birthday with an unexpectedly large group of friends and family. A documentary about her also was shown at a separate church in Mayfield.

According to a press release, LaFrance’s paintings are housed in museums in the U.S. and Europe, and in the collections of Oprah Winfrey and Bryant Gumbel. The self-taught, African American painter’s works show people at church, family gatherings, funerals and other aspects of small town life in western Kentucky.

One of her first known public works is a mural in the St. James AME Church in Mayfield, completed in 1947.

LaFrance also has worked in wood carving and quilting.

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