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The Anacostia Community Museum’s indoor gallery will be closed March 2 through May 18 as we bring our next exhibition to life. Even though our gallery is closed, join us at any of the dynamic upcoming events planned during this time. More information about our events is available at: We look forward to seeing you soon!

I Sing Because I Am Happy

Object Details

Ruby C. Williams
acrylic on plywood
7 7/8 × 36 × 1/2 in. (20 × 91.5 × 1.2 cm)
In acrylic paint on a long plywood panel, Ruby C. Williams (1930-) paints five birds in hues of blue and red landing on a golden perch. Daubs of turquoise and red pepper a purple sky. Blue birds, often considered harbingers of happiness, befit the gospel hymn lyric painted on the perch in black: “I Sing Because I Am Happy.” The line begins the chorus of “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” which continues: “I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” The song affirms that a God who sees a tiny sparrow also cares about a person who might feel “discouraged” or “lonely,” feelings voiced in its first verse. Joy found in music and the natural world are themes explored by Williams, whose art emerged from making roadside signs to sell her home-grown produce. The Bealsville, Florida artist’s work was featured in the Anacostia Community Museum’s exhibition, On Their Own: Selected Works by Self-Taught African American Artists (2005).
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