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Mary T. Smith
Black and Red Male Figure with Upraised Arms
1980s
acrylic on metal
65 1/4 x 26 3/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment



Smith's pictures of friends, popular heroes, and animals painted on hand-cut corrugated roofing tin first attracted attention when she began displaying the panels in her large yard in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. Using dense, bright colors and broad, uneven brushstrokes, Smith often added messages that reflected her deep religious faith. The upraised arms of this figure and many others like it suggest the "praise the Lord" or "amen" gestures of worshippers in evangelical churches throughout the south.