James "Son Ford" Thomas
A blues musician and visual artist, James “Son Ford” Thomas made his portrait-like studies from unfired clay that he dug from various sites near his home, including the Mississippi River riverbed. Often adding wax or hair grease to stop the raw clay from cracking, the artist would sometimes bake his pieces in a fire before adding paint and found objects, such as the cigarette included here. Thomas, who also worked as gravedigger, saw his pieces as personal reflections on the people he knew in his community, as well as a commentary on the inevitability that “we all end up in the clay.”
unfired clay, paint, fiber (artificial hair), glass (marbles)
overall: 9 × 7 1/2 × 7 in., 13 lb. (22.9 × 19.1 × 17.8 cm, 5.9kg) (show scale)
Son Thomas is written on the underside of the sculpture in black
This item is not on view
Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2018
© artist or artist's estate
Copyright for this work may be controlled by the artist, the artist's estate, or other rights holders. A more detailed analysis of its rights history may, however, place it in the public domain.
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
James "Son Ford" Thomas (American, 1926-1993). Untitled, 1987. unfired clay, paint, fiber (artificial hair), glass (marbles), overall: 9 × 7 1/2 × 7 in., 13 lb. (22.9 × 19.1 × 17.8 cm, 5.9kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2018, 2018.28.5. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: , CUR.2018.28.5.jpg)
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.