Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Mrs. Viola Andrews - My Mother 37959


Benny Andrews (Plainview, Georgia, 11/13/1930 - 11/10/2006, Brooklyn, New York City, NY)


Mrs. Viola Andrews - My Mother

Creation Date



mid-20th century


60 1/8 x 48 1/8 x 1 1/2 in. (152.72 x 122.24 x 3.81 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

oil with fabric collage on canvas

Credit Line

Gift of halley k harrisburg (’90) and Michael Rosenfeld


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

Standing stoically with a staff in hand, this portrait depicts Viola Andrews, the mother of artist Benny Andrews. This collage features material elements: light-colored fabric for the hat, red corduroy fabric used for her shirt, and a stained towel directly underneath. The staff in her hand might allude to her work as a sharecropper in rural Georgia, where she and her husband raised their ten children. Benny Andrews often drew inspiration from his family’s struggles as a foundation for his work. He depicted his mother in additional portraits, often seated with a book in her lap, perhaps reminding him of her devotion to education. Viola Andrews instilled in her children the importance of religion, education, and creative expression. She encouraged her son in his pursuit of art. The portrait of Viola Andrews might be interpreted as an ode to her efforts to support her family with persistence and determination.

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