Using beads for the "gleaming" eyes Harvey found joy in making figures with intense faces. She was especially fond of this one because she believed it possessed special powers.
Harvey was born Bessie Ruth White on October 11, 1929 as the seventh of thirteen children. She was raised in rural Dallas, Georgia by her alcoholic mother as her father died when Harvey was only a child. She describes, "The story of my life would make Roots and The Color Purple look like a fairy tale. There was nothing. In the morning, you'd just get up, go looking for whatever you could find, and if you had one meal that day, then you'd made progress." Poverty and despair plagued Bessie R. Harvey throughout most of her life. By age 35 she had divorced, remarried, and given birth to eleven children. It was not until her mother's death in 1974 did Harvey begin to fully explore her artistic talent. To cope with her grief Harvey began to express her emotions through sculpture. Noted for her ability to visualize images in wood (tree branches & roots) and then bring them to life, Bessie R. Harvey is a renowned folk artist whose work is highly sought after by collectors. Her works can be found in collections all over the world, including Japan, Germany, Australia, and the Whitney Museum in New York.