Steamboat Katie Adam

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Marker, crayon, and pencil on paper
18 x 24 inches
Collection of
Minneapolis Institute of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Growing up on a plantation in a Mississippi Delta community a few miles from the Mississippi River provided Speller with images that would later appear in his drawings:

“I used to put the telegram posts down, make the cups and find the wire, put it up. I worked on the river, too, over in Vicksburg, working on the levee. Tote sacks with sand in them, two hundred pounds, on your shoulders with two sticks. Loaded cotton bales. Stand out there in that cold water sometime up to your chin, thinking, “Don’t want to drown.” Then them boats come by, wheel rolling, music, ladies, things going on. It give you some ideas to think about, forget the other stuff.”