A native of North Georgia, Mattie Lou O’Kelley began painting when she was forty-seven. Twenty years later, in 1975, her Spring Vegetable Scene became the first artwork by a living self-taught artist to enter the High’s collection. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Robert Bishop, later director of the Museum of American Folk Art, saw this unknown artist’s work in Atlanta and helped launch her career.
Featuring brilliant color and strong technical control, her works provide highly detailed, intricately designed depictions of her own experiences of a dying way of life. From the eye-bending checkered tablecloth to the ripened peas visible through their pods to the shadowy eyes of the potatoes, this work demonstrates O’Kelley’s talent for color and detail.