Mary T. Smith

Hailing from a small Mississippi community, Mary T. Smith, born in 1904, turned her life and surroundings into an endless well of inspiration, leaving an indelible artistic legacy. 

Growing up as the third child in a sharecropping family of 13, she faced a notable hearing impairment that impacted her social interactions. Instead of mingling with others as a child, she chose to sketch drawings in the dust. Through her vibrant creations, Smith captures the essence of rural life in the American South. Characterized by the use of recycled materials, Smith transforms the courtyard of her home into an immersive creative space. Utilizing found objects, wooden planks, or pieces of sheet metal, she integrates them into her works, blurring the lines between art and the everyday. A favourite practice of hers is painting portraits, depicting family, friends, neighbours, and even God. Mary T. Smith’s art stands as a vibrant testament to human resilience, the beauty found in imperfection, and the celebration of everyday life.

Having passed away in 1995 at the age of 91, Smith left behind a compelling body of work comprising several hundred paintings. Today, she is recognized as an emblematic figure of American Art Brut. Her works are prominently displayed at renowned institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Smithsonian Museum of American Art (Washington), and the High Museum of Art (Atlanta).