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Catalog Data

William Dawson, born Huntsville, AL 1901-died Chicago, IL 1990  Search this
acrylic and felt-tipped pen and ink on carved wood
13 x 3 1/8 in. (33.0 x 7.8 cm)
Folk Art
ca. 1975
Luce Center Label:
William Dawson carved stacks of faces from old table and chair legs before he even knew what a totem pole was. These pieces show his distinctive carved faces, with wide, staring eyes painted a stark white against different colored backgrounds. He made totems in a variety of heights depending on the piece of wood, and they can reach up to four feet.
Luce Object Quote:
“I had never seen a totem. I was in the park one day. I was carving and a fellow came up and said, ‘Oh, you make totems.’ But I didn’t know what they were. My wife looked it up in a book in the library, and sure enough, I was making totems.” The artist, quoted in Folk Art Messenger, Winter 1990
Ethnic\African-American  Search this
Figure\fragment\face  Search this
Object\art object\totem pole  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak
Object number:
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Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Painting and Sculpture
On View:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 27A
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum