(1895 - 1964)
William E. Jordan was, by most accounts, a remarkable person. After
losing his sight to glaucoma at age 62 in 1957, he developed a method
of color drawing, producing numerous vibrantly colored works of
art in the remaining seven years of his life. For Jordan, like many
self-taught artists who trace the beginnings of their productivity
to life-changing events, this traumatic change prompted a blossoming
A foundling, left on church steps in Chattanooga, Tennessee,
Jordan spent his formative years with foster families and in orphanages
in Savannah, Georgia. As a young man, he briefly attended medical
college, traveled the country by foot and by train, and served
in WW I. Jordan's post war years were equally restless, but he
eventually settled into an accounting job which ended as he began
to lose his sight.
In 1957, Jordan began to make pencil drawings from memory, and
in a matter of months developed a method which would later be
called "braille drawing." This technique included pressing
down on the paper with a pencil tip to create indentations forming
the outline of an image. He then selected color pencils from a
special holder his wife arranged, and methodically filled in areas
of color, guided by the indentations in the paper, and working
in a carefully controlled area between two outstretched fingers.
He taught this method in schools for the blind, and formed his
own non-profit association for encouraging sight-impaired students.
Unpopulated landscapes were Jordan's predominant subject, most
of them representing memories of peaceful retreats from the man-made
world. The serenity of his work belies the restlessness and traumatic
events of his life. Though Jordan never depicted the human figure,
he usually included evidence of human activity.
William E. Jordan died in 1964. The Barbara Archer Gallery is
the exclusive representative of his estate.