James "Son" Thomas was one of the great Delta blues musicians, as well as a self-taught sculptor. Born in Eden, Mississippi, he was taught to play guitar by his uncle and grandfather, but began to play seriously only after reaching the age of fifty. Soon afterward, Thomas' bottle-neck blues style was enthusiastically received all over the world.
Thomas worked for a while as a grave digger and this profession most certainly stimulated his creation of clay caskets and skulls with human teeth. He said he made his first skull as a little boy to scare his grandfather who was afraid of ghosts.
Thomas' music and sculpture were first documented by William Ferris, a folklorist and Director for the Study of Southern Culture in Oxford, Mississippi. In 1981, Thomas' work was included in the "Black Folk Art" show at the Corcoran in Washington, D.C.
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