Mary T. Smith (1904-1995)

Mary T. Smith was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, and spent most of her life as a tenant farmer and a cook for other families. She later moved to Hazelhurst, Mississippi, where she lived and worked until her death. After retiring, and with time on her hands, she began to paint. Smith later said, "I did it to pretty the place and please the Lord." Smith's house and in its surrounding yard was located on one of Hazelhurst's main streets and captured the attention of countless passers-by with its colorful displays and decorations.

In her paintings, Smith used pieces of tin, scraps of plywood, scrap-metal sheets or other found materials. She worked with bold brush strokes, usually in one or two primary colors. Most of her paintings are figurative of animals or portraits, in a simple, child-like style, sometimes incorporating words or letters. Smith's lively figures are often depicted with both hands raised to heaven.

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