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Hattie Duncan

Hattie Duncan

(b.1947) lives in Jackson
Dora, (n.d.)
paper, paint, glue, 27.5 x 7.5 inches, 2015.65.36

As the daughter of a sharecropper who “was always sketching, painting and doodling” in his spare time, Duncan notes her father “was a folk artist, but we didn’t know that’s what it was called back then.” Duncan makes her folk sculptures from shredded newspaper, glue and water mixed in a blender, and uses wire hangers, plastic bottles and stockings to mold the figures. She often applies coffee grounds for hair, pine cones for hats, and broken egg shells for clothing. Many of the sculptures are of actual people, but she never knows who the sculptures are going to end up being. Dora is a tribute to her Aunt. Regarding the depiction of Aunt Dora’s prominent teeth, Duncan comments, “In those days, people didn’t get their teeth fixed like they do now and Dora had a big gap like I do. I’m not making fun of her. I just wanted to show that people don’t always look like they do in the magazines.”

In 2019, Duncan received the Tennessee Governors Folklife Heritage Award. This distinguished award is pesented to folk artists or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to Tennessee’s traditional arts. The award honors significant achievements within art forms that are rooted in the traditional or ethnic cultures of Tennessee.