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Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion


Artist: Jimmy Lee Sudduth (Born in Fayette, Alabama, 1910 – 2007)
Culture: American
Date: 1991
Medium: Mud on wood
23 x 23 1/8 inches (58.4 x 58.7 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of Bruce Lineker, A.B.’86
Label Text:Jimmy Lee Sudduth painted with his hands and fingers, and used paint he made himself from dirt and mud. As a child he began finger-painting with dirt and water, and in later years he came up with a recipe for “sweet mud.” By adding substances like molasses and sugar to his mud paints, he was able to keep his compositions from crumbling off their plywood backings. Sudduth also added substances like egg yolk and axle grease for variation in his colors, but the many shades seen in this painting demonstrate his talent for finding a wide spectrum from the earth alone. Sudduth, who died a few years short of his 100th birthday, used to say that he could find thirty-six different colors in the mud near his home in Fayette, Alabama.

The subjects of Sudduth’s paintings vary from joyful animals like Rooster to dogwood flowers and plantation homes, but all his works depict distinctly Southern motifs and bear his characteristic marks: a careful, cursive signature, a makeshift painted frame, and the imprints of his fingertips.

Object number: 2008.11.17