Margaret Dowell

For Our Ancestors

Oil on canvas

24″ x 30″



Artist Statement

Tobacco: Pro, Con and Love  

Native to the Americas, tobacco was first documented in the 15th century for its use in native religions and public ceremonies. Hundreds of years later the mass marketing of cigarettes exposed chronic tobacco use as a health risk. Today, tobacco is a dirty word.  

I grew up working beside my family in the tobacco fields of Southern Maryland. The sale of tobacco from our middling farm paid for my clothing, my shoes and contributed to my higher education. Later in life as co-editor of the book, Addiction and Art (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) and founder of the related website,, I would condemn tobacco use.  

Today, with love, I paint tobacco imagery in oils. I am surrounded by the fields where my ancestors toiled to support their families and communities. With my labor in the studio I nod to their past labor in the fields.  

In these works I embed a touch of imagery evoking the universe – because, well, there is always a bigger picture – one in constant flux. 

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