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Outsider Art | Will Espey | Biography
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I never intended to be an artist, and never in a million years could I have envisioned myself writing this type of statement. Growing up in a steel town, and being the type of youth who ate, breathed, and slept sports was about all I needed and dreamed of growing up in central Pennsylvania. Then there is life, life, and more life. Good fortune came my way as the “ stickboy” for the Johnstown Jets, the local minor league hockey team, better known now as the Charlestown Chiefs of the cult film “ Slap Shot” starring Paul Newman. The next few handful of years were spent pursueing the dream of playing professional hockey in the minor leagues from Binghampton, N. Y., to Kansas City, Ks.

The next phase led me to become a High Steel Ironworker and attempting to adjust to the more normal life, including a family. Down the road a few pages I found myself with a total lose of identity, I was to spend four years on a walker. I became wrapped up in addiction, as my physical capacities diminished. I no longer knew who I was or how I was going to go through life. After years of surgeries, and recovery from alcoholism, I asked myself,” What do I do now?”  I just picked up a few things for a home improvement project. I began to create and just by happenstance, I had a piece of sandpaper, and an open can of paint. I wondered what it would look like, so I painted the sandpaper, and the next night had me making my first brushes, from Turkey Feathers.

I had been writing down stories to give to my daughter, as I wanted to gift her with an internal family album, one that would allow her to see me from the depths of my being rather than just from a photographic surface perspective. It came to me to try to paint some images to go with the stories, and teachings from some of our Elders. A few people saw these and took me by the collar, tossing me head first into the art world. My first sale, a 99 cent piece of sandpaper, painted with paints I got in the hardware department at a local store. It was called the Fifth World of Peace and made into a poster for the Dept. of Labor and Industry of the State of Michigan,, “ Reaching Out to Natives with Disabilities” and I was somewhat the poster child of this. The next few years has honored me with presenting my pieces to such places as the Crazy Horse National Monument, the American Red Cross, Meadowcroft Rockshelter, affiliate the Heinz Museum/ Smithsonian, and Dept. of the Interior, as well as the Bedford Historical Society, Bedford Springs National Landmark. . As we speak here, I am showing in the Bellefonte Art Museum and preparing for a show there during the spring of 2014.

I have begun to carve and make most of my own frames recently and create objects with Birch Bark and Bone Beads,, finding myself after all of this, right in the middle of the beginning! When people who are interested in my work ask me about them, I simply tell them, “ You have to be the right kind of stupid to do what I do”! Any smarter, and you wouldn't do it,, if I were a bit more lacking, I wouldn't know how,, so I have to be just the Right Kind of Stupid, to get anything accomplished!

Mostly, I have met many wonderful people along the way who have kept me going, encouraged, motivated, and sane! I tell them, “ You know how in the Art World, most of the ones whose works are appreciated, die prior to being recognized, well I'm holding out


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