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Mose Tolliver  was born near Montgomery, Alabama. He was one of 12 children. He married his childhood friend, Willie Mae Thomas, in the 1940s and had 13 children. 

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During the late 1960s, after a severe injury (his legs were crushed when a load of marble shifted and fell from a forklift as he was sweeping in the furniture factory), he turned to painting to combat boredom and long hours of idle time. 

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 Tolliver was self-taught and signed his work, “Mose T” with a backward “s”. He regularly worked with “pure house paint” on plywood. Never able to walk well following his injury, he painted many self portraits with crutches. Watermelons and birds were also familiar themes. Tolliver’s themes were drawn from his own experience. 

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Tolliver was likely dyslexic, which may have encouraged his artistic efforts by limiting his reading and writing abilities. He would often turn his paintings upside-down and paint the picture of perhaps an animal and landscape positioned from various directions. The composition of Tolliver titles are wildly divergent; “Smoke Charlies”, “Scopper Bugs” or “Jick Jack Suzy Satisfying her own Self”. 

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Tolliver’s work has been exhibited in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, and at the Philadelphia College of Art, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Relatives of Tolliver have imitated his style and signed their work as he did, making it sometimes difficult for collectors to find an original painting.

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The artist died from pneumonia at age 82 on October 30, 2006 in Montgomery, Alabama.

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Photos from SoulsGrownDeep.org

Words from Wikipedia.

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