Mary Tillman Smith (American/Mississippi, 1904-1994), "Black Figure on Pink Background", oil on tin, unsigned, 39 1/2 in. x 26 in., unframed. Provenance: Gilley's Gallery, Baton Rouge, LA; Finley Collection. Exh.: "Soul Providers: African-American Art from the Finley Collection Original Paintings & Sculpture by Self-Taught Artists", The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, MS, Jan. 11 - Feb. 22, 2002 and listed in the accompanying catalogue; "Finley Collection", Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture, Natchez, MS, May 2009 - May 2013; "The John and Pam Finley Collection of African and Folk Art", University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, WY, June 8 - Aug. 17, 20 13. Note: Mary Tillman Smith was born to sharecroppers in rural Mississippi. She was born with a hearing impairment which resulted in difficulty speaking or being understood. As a result, she was ostracized by the local community and turned to art as a refuge. Smith painted on tin and plywood from the landfill near her home, and she was fascinated by patterns and lines. The work offered here is characteristic of her work, where she employed large fields of black to offset bright monochromatic backgrounds and attract passing motorists on the highway to her outdoor gallery.
Ref.: Arnett, William. “Her Name is Someone”. Souls Grown Deep. www.soulsgrowndeep.com. Accessed May 8, 2018.