Artist Biography: Maude Schuyler Clay

Maude Schuyler Clay achieved national attention in 1999 with the publication of Delta Land (University Press of Mississippi), a collection of sepia photographs from the land she has lived in most of her life, for which she received the Mississippi Arts and Letters award in 2000. Clay started focusing on dogs in the context of Delta landscapes when she was working on Delta Land. Four of the 25 photographs of dogs in her new exhibit appeared originally in Delta Land, including “Dog on a Log, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi,” shown here.

According to Clay, “To me, these dogs are part of the Delta’s landscape — as integral to the landscape as the cypress trees, the swamps, the tenant houses or the field churches. Over the past six or seven years, as I rode around the Delta looking at the landscape, I kept seeing dogs, so then I started looking for them. This exhibit is like Delta Land, but with a compelling canine presence.”

Clay, a fifth-generation Deltan, was born in Greenwood. She attended the Memphis Academy of Arts and apprenticed with her cousin, photographer William Eggleston. By 1975, she was living in New York City and working at the Light Gallery. She returned to live in the Delta in 1987, and in 1993, she began to take black-and-white photographs of the Delta landscape.

Her photographic work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Esquire, the New York Times Magazine, The London Observer Magazine, Mothers and Daughters, Women Photographers and other books. Some of Clay’s work is housed in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, in Washington, D.C.

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