Alma Thomas grew up in Columbus, Georgia, then moved to Washington, D.C., in 1907 with her family. In high school, she described the art classroom as a "beautiful place" that was just like "entering heaven" (Munro, Originals: American Women Artists, 1979).
Edward Kemeys was the first American artist to devote his career to sculpting animals. He did not receive any formal art training and worked in the iron business until the beginning of the Civil War.
Reverend Howard Finster preached his first sermon when he was just sixteen years old. He traveled around conducting baptisms, weddings, and funerals, and published some of his sermons in local papers in an attempt to reach more people (The New York Times, "Howard Finster," 2001).
Davis developed his wood-carving skills on his own over a period of more than fifty years, beginning during his childhood in Fitzgerald, Georgia.
Edward Greene Malbone was widely admired by both American and British artists. He traveled extensively, working alongside Washington Allston in Boston, and influencing the style of fellow miniaturist Charles Fraser in Charleston.
Mr. Imagination changed his name from Gregory Warmack after spending several weeks in a coma caused by a neighborhood shooting. He grew up in one of Chicago’s poorest areas and, as a teenager, spent his time painting rocks, whittling tree bark, and crafting jewelry from discarded objects.