Lila Graves was born in Alexander City, Alabama. Growing up with the furniture business her father owned, she was influenced by the craftsmanship. This can be seen in the weighty, three dimensional wooden carvings she has created in the past. (bio continued below)
Since miraculously recovered from terminal cancer nine years ago her work has taken a spiritual direction. Her paintings often feature angels and crowned figures symbolizing her strong faith. Her bright, cheerful images are painted with a child-like brush stroke and reflect a sort of innocence most of us have lost.
When a friend suggested she exhibit at the Kentuck Festival, Lila applied and immediately felt at home among the other artists there. Though trained in studio art, her style changed after her struggle with cancer. Since then her work has been successful in bridging the gap between trained and self taught art.
"I think people need to know that it's possible not to be a victim of unhappy memories. Now I speak from a healed child's voice. God has blessed me with my story, and I think it's my obligation not to abandon either that healed child or that cancer survival story."
Bio adapted from William Andrews
Lila's childhood was darkened by a traumatic, violent experience after which creating became an escape from her bad memories. Then when Lila was twenty-six, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer- melanoma. After surgery, she was given a brief life expectancy. With little time left, Lila embarked on a spiritual and physical journey. A wandering to San Miguel, Mexico that resulted in visitors seeing a young woman painting on the streets, while wearing a set of angel's wings worn like a backpack.
Lila's logic was that if she was supposed to die and become an angel in Heaven, then perhaps Lila-as-angel could live here on earth for a while longer. She treated each work of art as if it were her last. So one day, in San Miguel, Lila woke up. The next day she woke up again and then kept on waking up, not dying, for days after, that turned into weeks. In a supreme moment of self-awareness, Lila knew that she had painted herself well.
She returned home to friends, family and doctors in disbelief of her healthy condition. Within a short time she fell in love with a musician, Jonathan. They married and in July of 2000 became parents of a cherub, Luci. Lila says, "My whimsical style is an untrained voice, because of my self-healing. I had to go back to that child to discover who I was. That's how this artwork was born. I know which voice I need to talk in to take care of myself, and sometimes my child voice is the one that heals the unhealthy imprinting of my past."