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Spirit of the Delta
The Art of Carolyn Norris

By Dorothy Sample Shawhan

With contributions from Patti Carr Black
and Tom Rankin
and Kim Rushing

128 pages (approx.), 81?2 x 11 inches, 115 color illustrations

978-1-60473-992-3 Cloth $35.00

978-1-60473-993-0 Ebook $35.00

Cloth, $35.00

Ebook 978-1-60473-993-0, $35.00

A retrospective of an inspirational self-taught artist from the Mississippi Delta

Raised in West Virginia, self-taught artist Carolyn Norris (b. 1948) moved as a young woman of twenty-one to Cleveland, Mississippi, a quintessential Delta railroad town on the famous blues Highway 61. To create one of her first paintings, she tore the wooden back off a dresser to use as a canvas. She painted with available house paint and completed the painting with face makeup. Thus began the realization of a passionate need to paint.

Eventually, Norris came to serve as the visual griot of Cleveland. She has used a variety of media, painting on canvas, wood, paper, cardboard, glass, plates, tiles, sheets, floor covering, and mirrors. She also uses her garage door as a giant mural chronicling community events. In her extraordinary images, Norris shows daily black life in the modern Delta.

Spirit of the Delta contains 115 color images pulled from Norris's twenty-five years as a painter. Her existing artwork has been photographed by noted local photographer Kim Rushing and copies of the works that no longer exist have been found whenever possible. The book features a biographical essay on Carolyn Norris by Dorothy Sample Shawhan and an essay on her artwork by critic Patti Carr Black, who places Norris within self-taught traditions. In an interview with folklorist Tom Rankin, which took place in 1991, Norris explains the centrality of art in her life.

Dorothy Sample Shawhan, Cleveland, Mississippi, is professor emerita of English and chair emerita of the Division of Languages and Literature at Delta State University. She is the coauthor with Martha Swain of Lucy Somerville Howorth: New Deal Lawyer, Politician, and Feminist from the South and the novel Lizzie. Patti Carr Black, Jackson, Mississippi, former director of the Old Capitol Museum of Mississippi History, is an art historian and the author of Art in Mississippi, 1720-1980. Tom Rankin, Durham, North Carolina, is director for the Center of Documentary Studies at Duke University. He is the editor of Deaf Maggie Lee Sayre: Photographs of a River Life, among other books. Kim Rushing, Cleveland, Mississippi, is professor of art and director of photography at Delta State University. His solo exhibits have included images of China, Appalachia, and Photographs of Walthall County.

128 pages (approx.), 81?2 x 11 inches, 115 color illustrations