HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi artist's work is now being celebrated in a book and fashion line.
“Worlds Beyond My Window,” published by the University Press of Mississippi, features more than 150 paintings and a dozen poems by Collins native Gertrude McCarty Smith.
Before Smith's death in 2007, she was a columnist for years for the Hattiesburg American, where she wrote about growing up on a farm in Covington County during the Great Depression. She produced hundreds of paintings in her life, many portraying the state's nature.
“The trees, the water and anything, it inspires me," Smith said during a 2004 interview with Southern Living Presents.
"I know the Lord made it, and he gave me a talent. It comes natural — my hands and arms just want to work, just want to flow."
The publication of the 212-page hardbound book will be marked by an art show at the Oddfellows Gallery of Hattiesburg. It opens with a reception on Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will run through Dec. 31. The exhibit features more than 70 artworks that have not been exhibited locally for nearly 15 years.
Oddfellow exhibit curator Rick Wilemon said Smith’s works demonstrate a lifelong passion for Mississippi culture.
“One cannot view her paintings or read her poetry without feeling the sheer joy she felt for life,” he said. "Her legacy of creative work deserves a place in the history of Mississippi’s long and distinguished list of artists and writers.”
Smith’s artwork has also been turned into a fashion line, available for purchase online. Proceeds for the book and the fashion line will benefit the Gertrude McCarty Smith Foundation for the Arts. Its mission is to bring access and passion for literature, performance and visual arts to underserved communities throughout Mississippi.
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