January 15 would have been Theora Hamblett’s 116th birthday. Hamblett, a Mississippi artist, is known for her primitive style paintings that reflected her childhood memories, the Southern countryside, and religious visions.
Hamblett grew up on a farm in Paris, MS located in Lafayette County. She began teaching school in 1915 and travelled about the county teaching until 1936. In 1939 Hamblett moved to Oxford for a change of scenery. She made her living by working as a seamstress and renting out rooms in her home to college students. She didn’t actually begin painting until 1950 when she took an art class at night at the University of Mississippi. In searching AskArt database, I found this look into Hamblett’s feelings towards her art class from The Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. The entry says Theora’s time in class “was short because the course focused on abstract art, which did not interest her. Instead, she followed her own inclinations.”
Hamblett’s paintings are notable for the pointillist technique she used. She used dots of many colors to create her compositions. For example, most of the leaves on the trees in Hamblett’s paintings are made up of no less than 3 different dots of color. Hamblett’s painting Golden Gate, later renamed The Vision went on to hang in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Upon her death in 1977, Hamblett bequeathed approximately 200 paintings to University of Mississippi Museums. Hamblett’s works are on display year round at The University Museum in Oxford, MS.