comment 0

The paintings of Mary Tillman Smith

IMG_8228.jpg

Mary T. Smith was a self-taught African-American artist from Mississippi. She lived from 1904 to 1995. She was a prolific artist during the years in which she painted. In her yard, she apparently created some outbuildings where she painted and installed her work. Smith’s work was well-collected (her paintings can be found at the Met and in the Smithsonian for instance) and although she sold a lot of paintings, she died penniless, as she was not able to paint during her last few years.

She didn’t start painting until the late-70s. She often used found materials like plywood or corrugated tin as a ground. The works I’m familiar with typically have one or more figures, arms raised up, painted in one or two colours. Many of her figures are similar and very purposeful. Often she used very unusual colour combinations.  I’ve wondered if she sometimes bought paint returns from the bargain bin at her local hardware. Some of her works contained hand-painted text, often religious in nature.

Powerful, transfixing work.

There is an interesting essay about Mary T. Smith written by William Arnett, who championed her work. The painting in the photo above hangs in our home.

Have your say...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s