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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Paint on wood
21.75 x 27.75 inches
Collection of
Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Painted and written scripts and slogans were also an integral part of the yard. Though Smith was capable of legible printing and cursive writing, she wrote on many of her paintings with inscriptions that were seemingly unintelligible (for example, Buzyk = Jesus). This may have been an attempt to play into the town’s perception of her as ignorant or crazy, thereby affording her a degree of privacy and, hence, security. The inscriptions, especially those on religious paintings, seem to belong to a purposeful and meaningful system, and like John B. Murray with his quasi-writing, Smith probably understood thoroughly her invented words. In other cases her “writing” seems simply an improvisational almost formalist use of letters and script as elements of design, a technique employed for centuries by African American quilters, for example.