Burgess Dulaney


Burgess Dulaney was the next to youngest of 11 children. He spent most of his adult years raising cotton, corn and hogs on a small plot of family land in North Mississippi. He now lives just a few feet from the family log home where he grew up. Forced by hard times to assist his family on the farm, Dulaney never attended school and never learned to read nor write. His unfired clay sculptures reflect an unusual and unerring aesthetic.

Dulaney was unsure when he began to sculpt, using clay he would dig near his home. His family said Dulaney had been at this work for at least 25 years. He tried whittling when younger, but devoted most of his energy almost entirely to his clay pieces. "When it got where I couldn't work, I had to have something to pass the time." Dulaney preferred clay that "sticks like glue to my fingers, the stickier the better." The pieces were constructed on small boards and placed in a shady spot or dark closet to dry slowly. "When I first started, I tried to leave them baking in the sun. I learned pretty quick the sun here will eat them up.

Dulaney occasionally painted a clay piece, and even experimented with cement as a medium. He used no substructure to support his work and didn't mind sitting for several hours holding more delicate structures such as antlers until the clay dried sufficiently to support its weight. In addition to his animals and mysterious human figures, Dulaney also produced a variety of forms which resemble traditional utilitarian pottery. Other vessels have a delightfully contemporary quality.