Your cart is empty.
What Became of Dr. Smith

What Became of Dr. Smith

By Noah Saterstrom
Edited by Megan Hines
Foreword by Betsy Bradley
Paperback : 9781887422246, 96 pages, 139 full-color images, April 2024

An extraordinary expression of family history and discovery by a rising southern artist


Artist Noah Saterstrom (b. 1974) grew up aware of a mystery in his family’s story. No living relatives knew what had happened to his great-grandfather Dr. David Lawson (D. L.) Lemmon Smith, an optometrist who lived in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and disappeared in the 1920s. Through years of research Saterstrom pieced together evidence of his great-grandfather’s life. A selection of his findings—photographs, letters, and Dr. Smith’s personal effects—became the inspiration for his art, an exhibition, and this book, What Became of Dr. Smith.

Saterstrom discovered that Dr. Smith was hospitalized in 1925 at the Mississippi State Insane Hospital in Jackson, later known as the Old Asylum, and moved to the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield, where he lived until his death in 1965. These fragments of belongings and stories became material for Saterstrom’s artistic process. Painting in his studio in Nashville, Tennessee, Saterstrom shaped them into a panoramic story. The result, What Became of Dr. Smith, is his largest painting to date, made of 183 canvases hung together in a grid spanning 122 feet in length.

This catalogue, the first dedicated to Saterstrom’s work, is published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The book includes essays discussing Saterstrom’s artistic process, the history of the Old Asylum, and the history of narrative painting going back to the Italian Renaissance. It features a full-color foldout of the panoramic painting featured in the exhibition.