Mattie Lou O’Kelley

born Maysville, GA 1908-died Decatur, GA 1997
Media - portrait_image_113243.jpg - 90168
Copyright unknown
Maysville, Georgia, United States
Decatur, Georgia, United States
Active in
  • New York, New York, United States
  • West Palm Beach, Florida, United States
  • American

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)