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Mattie Lou O'Kelley Portrait

Mattie Lou O'Kelley

Born:
Maysville, Georgia 1908

Died:
Decatur, Georgia 1997

Active in:

  • New York, New York
  • West Palm Beach, Florida

Photo Caption:
Copyright unknown

Luce Artist Quote

"I made no friends, I had no beaus, I stayed at home. I piddled at this and that, I did not roam. Now my one room house has only me, I never roam, No lessons have I, But I paint And paint And stay at home." (Autobiography by Mattie Lou O'Kelley, quoted in Chuck and Jan Rosenak, Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia, 1990)


Luce Artist Biography

Mattie Lou O'Kelley lived most of her life in isolation. Born on a farm in Georgia, she attended school until ninth grade but then quit to help out at home. When her father died and the farm was sold, O'Kelley moved to the small town of Maysville, Georgia, and worked a variety of jobs, including waitressing, making yarn, and sewing work clothes. She began to paint in her fifties and created idyllic scenes that showed farm life at the turn of the twentieth century. She lived briefly in New York and West Palm Beach, but soon left city life to return to Georgia, where she could "paint and paint and stay at home." (Chuck and Jan Rosenak, Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia, 1990)