American Folk Artist Grandma Moses Began Her Career at 78

Grandma Moses, American folk artist
Grandma Moses, American folk artist. Illustration by Zoë Frederick.

Grandma Moses, 1860–1961

Despite an interest in art from a young age, American folk artist Grandma Moses didn’t begin her artistic career until she was 78 years old. Her charming, colorful images of farm life in rural New England have since become iconic. Born in Greenwich, N.Y., in 1860, Grandma Moses began working as a housekeeper at the age of 12, and continued the work for the next 15 years until she was married at 27 and became a farmer’s wife. Her success at a late-in-life career venture earned her numerous awards, including being named Mademoiselle magazine’s “Young Woman of the Year” at age 88. Her painting “Sugaring Off” was sold for $1.2 million in 2006.

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About the artist: Illustrator Zoë Frederick was born in rural Virginia and raised in a small wooden house built by her potter parents. After attending Sarah Lawrence College, she moved to Brooklyn to make work. Following a brief stint in Philadelphia, Zoë returned to New York to begin her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in the fall of 2015. She has participated in residencies in New Mexico, Maine, and Brooklyn. zoefrederick.com

This feature originally appeared in the Mothers & Grandmothers issue. For more inspiring women, check out The Only Child Box and Pause by Mary Ruefle.