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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
1987
Paint on wood
24 x 24 inches

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Description: 

Two large commercial billboards stood along a highway adjacent to Mary T. Smith’s yard, and she had a front-row seat for their frequent changes in imagery.

Two large commercial billboards stood along a highway adjacent to Mary T. Smith’s yard, and she had a front-row seat for their frequent changes in imagery. On her lawn, Smith created her own form of advertising, using images and texts to promote her religious faith to passing motorists: “I just be making pictures all the time. I put ‘em up everywhere. People pass by in their car and they honk. They come an’ see my pictures.”

With its frontal orientation and close cropping, this portrait appears to have absorbed some of the compositional strategies found on billboards. The figure stands before a disjointed horizon, filling much of the frame with her large Afro hairstyle and hoop earrings, making direct eye contact with the viewer like a model in an advertisement. —Lauren Palmor