Bessie Harvey

“Bessie Harvey is one of East Tennessee’s most highly regarded self-taught artists.  She achieved artistic accomplishment despite a life of poverty, a fourth grade education and the constant grueling efforts to support her eleven children.  She   was born in Dallas, Georgia, the seventh of thirteen children.  At age twenty, she left her husband and moved to Alcoa, Tennessee, where she worked as a domestic around Knoxville from 1950 through the late 1970s…It wasn’t until she was in her forties that she began making art…based on visions inspired by God…Harvey believed that God had shown here visions of faces on the wall of her house to soothe her.”  (‘Outsider Art of the South’, Kathy Moses). In 1995 Harvey was included in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work "Cross Bearers" was subsequently purchased by the museum for its permanent collection. Work by Bessie Harvey may be found in the permanent collections of the Knoxville Museum of Art and the American Folk Art Museum, New York.