Mary Tillman Smith

1905 - 1995

Mary Tillman Smith, most often referred to as Mary T. Smith, was a self-taught painter of the American South who lived and worked in Mississippi most of her life. She created bold, colorful, and expressive paintings, usually using house paint on wood or tin. Her work consists of highly stylized figures in strong colors, often with animating dots and dashes, alongside sometimes cryptically abstracted texts laid upon monochrome contrasting background colors. Her work is shown throughout the world and collected by museums, most famously by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as numerous other museums including the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; the de Young Museum of Art in San Francisco; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Birmingham Museum of Art; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum; as well as the collections of Tufts University, Willamette University, and the University of Mississippi. She has received solo shows at galleries in the United States and Europe, and has been included in numerous group shows. She is considered a Southern self-taught artist, a group that includes Thornton Dial and Nellie Mae Rowe.
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