Mona Boulware Webb
Born Nevelle Ruth Boyce in Houston, Texas, Mona grew up in a cultured, middle class, family of African, Apache, Portuguese, and Scottish ancestry. Mona's mother was a teacher and concert pianist and her father was the founder and pastor of Houston's first black Presbyterian Church. As the first born of eight, Mona was given a boy's name, "Nevelle," and raised as a tomboy up until she grew into a graceful and intellectual beauty, determined to become a medical doctor. She attended what is now Hampton University in Virginia and there met and married a prominent professor and author, Marcus H. Boulware. The birth of their first child interrupted her studies, but even without a degree, Mona went on to teach biology, ballet, and to serve briefly as dean of women at St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, N.C.. She liked to say "I never go the M.D., but as an artist I did fulfill my dream of becoming a brain surgeon!" She lived the life of a respected professor's wife and gave birth to three more children.
After hearing headline news of the brutal, racially-motivated, killing of young Emmett Till in 1955, Mona left her husband and gathered her two sons and two daughters and moved with them on her own to Mexico City. There, she felt free from the confines of academia and quickly became a major force in a very international and more kindred circle of creative free thinkers that included Krishnamurti and Aldous Huxley. Mona was also inspired by the vibrancy of Mexican culture, its textiles, and the revolutionary paintings of Diego Rivera and Orozco.
In the early 1960's, Webb returned to the US to settle in Madison, Wisconsin. Divorced from Boulware, Mona briefly married a far younger man who was an heir to the Vanderbilt fortune. She soon founded and opened, "The Wayhouse of Light" in an historic, three-story building.
For the next thirty-plus years, Mona poured her creativity into every inch, filling her house with creative people, music, discussions, and her very particular spiritual and artistic vision of God and Goddess as expressed in many forms.
Niels Nielsen's award-winning documentary, The Gods of Beauty, captures Mona in her Wayhouse, surrounded by her art.
Links: To learn more about Mona Boulware Webb, visit: http://www.folkart.org/mag/mona-boulware-webb