Laverne Nelson Black was born in Viola, Wisconsin. Being raised in the Kickapoo River Valley he was fascinated by native American art even as a child. He made his first paints from vegetable juices, dirt, clay and a soft stone called red keel. Black received a scholarship to the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and studied illustration, sculpture and painting. Following his enrollment at the academy he would travel out west every summer to paint while he commissioned in New York and Chicago for his sculpting and illustration.
Black used realistic and vibrant colors in his western paintings swaying him from the traditional impressionism. Suffering from ill heath in his late thirty’s he moved to Taos, New Mexico in 1925 where he excelled at his work. He focused on painting the pueblo architecture and Native Americans. He later moved to Phoenix, Arizona and he won a commission on a Work Projects Administration (WPA) by the Post Office to paint murals as well as being commissioned for the Santa Fe Railway. It was shortly after painting the mural that Laverne Black passed away, believed to be from lead poisoning in the paint he was using. Laverne Nelson Black work gained greater appreciation after his death and are still in high demand today. His Bronze’s have sold at Tiffany’s in New York and his pieces are seen as quite rare.