Birthing

Copied Bessie Harvey, Birthing, ca. 1986, painted wood, beads, rhinestones, sequins, glitter and nail, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase and gift of Estelle E. Friedman, 1994.46

Artwork Details

Title
Birthing
Date
ca. 1986
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
9 1235 3417 78 in. (24.290.845.4 cm.)
Credit Line
Museum purchase and gift of Estelle E. Friedman
Mediums Description
painted wood, beads, rhinestones, sequins, glitter and nail
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure group — female and child
  • State of being — other — pregnant
Object Number
1994.46

Artwork Description

Bessie Harvey used branches, roots, and found objects to make sculptures that reflected her deep spirituality and spoke about the challenges she had faced. Harvey explained that her art came from her own struggle. She remembered her hunger during the Depression and making her own toys from twigs and branches as a child. Harvey married at fourteen and by age thirty-five had borne eleven children. “I didn’t really become human until my youngest was half-grown,” she explained, noting the intense struggle of providing for her children. Often painted black or dark brown, Harvey’s sculptures are raw and emotive. Her natural forms convey a view that God and nature are one and that her gift was the ability to make something from nothing.