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Artist : Luce Foundation Center for American Art / American Art
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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Folk Art: Folk Reliefs: Assemblage with Found Objects




Simon Sparrow

(born West Africa 1925 -- died Madison, WI 2000)

Simon Sparrow was born in West Africa to a Cherokee mother and an African father. He moved to North Carolina when he was two years old and lived on an Indian reservation. Sparrow claims to have started preaching and painting at the age of seven, when God told him: "Open up your mouth, and I will speak for you." He ran away from home a few years later and went to Philadelphia, working in a restaurant and painting portraits in his free time. He joined the Army briefly, then moved to New York, where he worked a variety of odd jobs and painted religious subjects. In the early 1960s his apartment burned down and only one painting survived. Sparrow saw this as a message from God and decided never to paint a representational picture again. Instead, he created abstract images from glitter, beads, and found objects that show people's inner "spirits" ("Paul Schmeizer examines the mystery art and ministry of Simon Sparrow," Raw Vision, No. 34)




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