Hired by the New York City Board of Education, Willie Torbert taught in the public school system for ten years. During his tenure there, Willie exposed his students to many facets of art through an array of mediums. When he moved away from his teaching job to concentrate on his craft full time, Howard Golden, then the Brooklyn Borough President (1977-2001), bestowed the Award of Meritorious Teacher, which was seldom given, to Torbert. The accolade was warranted, because of Torbert’s dedication to the immensely talented yet too often disenfranchised young art students of Brooklyn.
Torbert has spent his life exploring African American culture through creative and complex collage art. He produces highly stylized representations of a wide variety of mostly Afro-Centric themes from musicians and heroic warriors to everyday people. By building up layers of various mediums including collage, watercolor, printmaking and pencil techniques, he has masterfully created his repertoire of textures and patterns to depict composite scenes of African American life.
Torbert’s work has found a home in some of the most prominent collections in the World as well as in Museum shows. His most recent Museum showing was in the Taubman Museum with their show Reclamation! Pan-African Works from the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection.