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Self-Taught Art
Art Brut
J.B. Murry (John B. Murry or Murray)
Born in Sandersville, GA

Having no formal education, J.B. Murry labored from childhood to the age of sixty-five as a tenant farmer in rural Glasock County, Georgia. Murry married Cleo Kitchens in 1929 and with her raised a family of eleven children. At the time of his death Murry had sixteen grandchildren, thirteen great grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

In 1977 Murry, suffering from a hip problem, came under the medical care of Dr. William Rawlings, Jr., who took an interest in his patient's personal as well as physical well-being. Soon after becoming acquainted with Dr. Rawling's, whom Murry described as his "spiritual doctor," Murry had a vision in which he was charged with spreading the word of God through the creation of "spirit-script." After the vision, Murry produced and brought reams of "script" to Rawling's office. A deeply religious man, Murry avowed the arcane script that he produced while in a trance represented direct communication with God. A session of prayer always preceded Murry's deciphering the spirit script, which he accomplished by viewing the script through a glass of well water.

Initially Murry produced the script on market receipts, bank calendars, or whatever material he had at hand. Eventually adding abstract linear figures representing human beings to the script, Murry produced stunning calligraphic drawings always concerned with good and evil, heaven and hell. Becoming increasingly interested in Murry's creations, Rawlings provided him with a small sum of money to purchase drawing supplies in 1979. From that time on Murry drew continuously with obsession zeal. The drawings were shown to artist Andy Nasisse, who considered them marvelous and made available to Murry a variety of drawing materials, including colored pencils, watercolors, pastels, and marking pens,

In the ten years before his death from cancer Murry produced hundreds of abstract drawings, all imbued with a gentle and ethereal beauty.

Source: Barbara Freeman, Biographies of Outsider Artists in "Parallel Visions: Modern Artists and Outsider Art," Copyright 1992 by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Princeton University Press, Reprinted by permission of the copyright holder.

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