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Joseph S. Mella

painter, graphic artist, printmaker, and publisher, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Ned Adams, an electrician and occasional sign painter, and Laura. Adams first explored art making by mimicking his father, who, according to Adams, enjoyed drawing. After the divorce of his parents around 1944, Adams lived with his aunt and uncle, Claudia and Caleb Spivey. Although he sought to attend a program for gifted children at the Detroit Institute of Arts, his uncle vehemently prohibited it, preferring that Adams spend his free time working jobs such as delivering newspapers. Adams attended Northwestern High School in Detroit while continuing to live with the Spiveys until age fifteen, when he moved to his father's home.

After graduating from high school in 1951 Adams moved to Romeo Michigan a then rural town forty one miles north of Detroit There Adams worked at ...

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Cynthia Marie Canejo

was born on 22 March 1926 in Terra Roxa in the state of São Paulo. In 1934 he and his family relocated to the city of São Paulo. After studying painting at the Instituto Profissional Masculino (Men’s Professional Institute), São Paulo, from 1939 to 1943, he joined the Grupo dos 19, a group of nineteen artists linked by their interest in new expression, in 1947. In 1950 he continued his studies in printmaking at the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris.

Returning to Brazil in 1951, Araújo moved to Rio de Janeiro and found a position assisting the renowned Brazilian painter Cândido Portinari (1903–1962). In 1959 he won the first prize for printmaking at the Salão Para Todos (Salon for All) in Rio de Janeiro, and was awarded a trip to China. In 1960 he received a scholarship to study at ...

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Amalia K. Amaki

graphic artist, painter, printmaker, and political activist, was born in Chicago in 1931. An only child, he attended Chicago public schools, moving briefly to Washington, D.C., to study at Howard University with Alain Leroy Locke, Sterling Allen Brown, and James Amos Porter. After one year he then enrolled at Alabama State College (later Alabama State University) to study under the sculptor, painter, and printmaker Hayward Louis Oubre, and he received a bachelor of arts degree. Bailey continued study at the University of Southern California (USC) as a student of Charles White and the Hungarian-born Francis de Erdely. He earned the bachelor of fine arts degree in 1958 and the master of fine arts degree in 1960. At USC he worked as a graduate assistant for two years, introducing the students Mel Edwards and Calvin Burnett to the work ...

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Carmen Oquendo-Villar

José Bedia was born in Havana, Cuba, where he pursued his formal artistic education at the Academia de Artes Plásticas San Alejandro and at the Instituto Superior de Arte. He left Cuba in 1991 and spent a brief time in Mexico before establishing himself in Miami in 1993. Bedia's work—drawings on paper; oil paintings on canvas; works in ink, acrylic, charcoal, oil crayons; and installations—derives most of its power from Cuba's African heritage, sometimes bringing to mind Kongo cosmograms (geometric designs which carry religious meanings) and Abakuá (Afro-Cuban all-male secret societies) ideographic writing. Texts in Spanish, Yoruba, or Bantu languages accompany many of his pieces. Despite the deep presence of African art Bedia's work, Cuban critic Gerardo Mosquera has labeled it postmodern Kongo art because it does not pretend to be a reenactment of original African art.

Bedia s adherence to local attitudes does not prevent him ...

Article

master printer, artist, educator, and founder of the Printmaking Workshop, was born in Summit, New Jersey, the son of Jeannette Chambers Blackburn and Archibald Blackburn of Jamaica, West Indies. Robert, also known as Bob, had a younger sister, Gertrude, and a half brother. His father, although trained as a minister, found employment with the Lackawanna Railroad in Summit. When Blackburn was two, the family moved to rural Elmira, New York. Blackburn fondly recalled his early childhood in the rural town, where he listened to the train whistle from his bedroom window, attended church every Sunday, and won a toy car as a prize for a drawing he had done. During the Depression, when Blackburn was seven, his family moved to Harlem, where he attended public schools from 1932 to 1936.

At Frederick Douglass Junior High School, Blackburn was influenced by his teacher, the poet Countée Cullen who sparked ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

draftsman, lithographer, painter, and entrepreneur, was born free in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Brown and Wilhelmina (maiden name unknown). Nothing is known about Brown's family or childhood. It appears that in the mid-1850s, Brown moved to San Francisco on the heels of the gold rush. While black fur traders, including Edward Rose and Jim Beckwourth, had already explored the West by the mid-1850s, few African Americans were living in California before this time. By 1860, though, close to five thousand blacks had moved to California, including Mary Ellen Pleasant and Edmond Wysinger. Just what precipitated Brown's decision to move to San Francisco is unknown, but records show that by 1861 he was employed as a draftsman for the commercial lithography firm of Kuchel and Dressel While his skill is evidenced by the quality work he produced for the firm Brown must also have been considered a ...

Article

Amalia K. Amaki

painter and printmaker, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Nathan Burnett Sr., a physician and surgeon, and Adelaide Waller, a homemaker. Though his parents, especially his father, hoped he would pursue a medical or legal career, Burnett instead evinced an interest in art, one perhaps originating with his parents’ own. Calvin appreciated his father's drawings and a painting of an apple done by his mother that was displayed at their home.

As a young boy Burnett routinely copied Mickey Mouse and other characters from the comics in the Sunday paper with such skill that his parents reserved a small section of the kitchen counter for his use They also took him to area museums where he was particularly impressed with Greek sculpture and engaged in prolonged discussions with both parents about the objects on view He was further encouraged by visits to his grandparents home where some ...

Article

Joye Vailes Shepperd

artist, was born in Richmond, Virginia, to John and Ophelia Cortor. The following year the Cortors moved to Chicago, Illinois, as part of the Great Migration. In 1910 fewer than fifty thousand blacks lived in Chicago; by 1920 the number had tripled In search of a better education and environment for their son the Cortors first moved to the South Side home to a thriving African American community John Cortor operated a modest business installing electricity into homes and repairing small electrical appliances he eventually saved enough to open a grocery store and earned the luxury of indulging in his favorite pastimes A motorcycle enthusiast and a sportsman he also learned to pilot a small airplane He belonged to a group of pioneering African American pilots and prided himself on the fruits of his practical brand of hard work ingenuity and self determination Though John Cortor was not ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

a painter of African, Native American, and European ancestry who recorded the people, architecture, and daily life of African Americans in Boston's Roxbury and South End districts, was born in 1910 in North Plainfield, New Jersey, to Oscar William Crite and Annamae Palmer Crite. He was the only one of four children to survive infancy. While he was still a baby, his family moved to Boston so that his father could pursue a degree in engineering. Crite graduated from Boston Latin High School in 1920. Although offered a scholarship by the Yale University School of Art, Crite elected to remain in Boston to help his mother attend to his father, who had suffered a stroke. He attended the Boston School of the Museum of Fine Arts on scholarship, studying industrial design as well as drawing and painting before graduating in 1936 The school encouraged precision a ...

Article

Betty Kaplan Gubert

Oscar and Annamae Palmer Crite, Allan Rohan Crite's parents, moved to Boston, Massachusetts, before he was a year old. Crite attended Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts from 1929 to 1936, while also painting in the federal government's Works Progress Administration (WPA) program. He graduated from Harvard University's Extension School in 1968, where he also worked as a librarian for twenty years. In nearly seven decades of work, Crite has participated in many solo and group exhibitions.

Crite's early paintings are full of action and brilliant color, and filled with light. They depict the rich connections within a small urban black community. Parade on Hammond Street (1935) and School's Out (1936) are outstanding examples of what Crite calls his “reporting” of African American city life. A quieter double portrait, Harriet and Leon (1941 shows a dignified couple on ...

Article

Born in Houston, Texas, Melvin Edwards studied painting at the University of Southern California (USC), and began sculpting in 1960. Five years later he received his B.F.A. degree from USC. Edwards first gained critical attention with a series of sculptures entitled Lynch Fragments, which he had begun in 1963. By 1997 the series included more than 150 individual works made from both forged and welded parts of knife sheaths, automotive gears, chains, ball bearings, horseshoes, and other metal. The works, each of which is about the size of a human head and hangs on a wall, explore themes of violence and incorporate both American and African symbolism.

In 1967 Edwards moved from California to New Jersey, and his work began to shift away from the manipulated, unpainted metal. A solo exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1968 included geometric shapes painted ...

Article

Pamela Lee Gray

painter, graphic artist, printmaker, curator, and educator, was born in Dayton, Ohio. His family later moved to Indianapolis, where he attended high school in 1903 and 1904. While Farrow was in high school, the noted muralist William Edouard Scott recognized his artistic potential and encouraged him to enroll at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1908 Farrow moved to Chicago to begin classes at the Institute, Scott's alma mater and one of the first U.S. art schools to admit black students.

Farrow studied intermittently at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1908 to 1918, while working for the U.S. Postal Service. When Farrow arrived at the institute, founded as the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1879 it was not yet a world class art institution In the early twentieth century the institute was actively building ...

Article

Janet Yagoda Shagam

painter, printmaker, and educator, was born Reginald Adolphus Gammon Jr. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Reginald Gammon Sr. and Martha Brown, Jamaican émigrés. An academic-track student, Gammon graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in 1941. The caption under his yearbook portrait states that he is “one of the best artists.”

In 1941 Gammon received a scholarship to the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts (later the Philadelphia Museum College of Art). During the summer of 1942, he worked at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard refurbishing battleships for the war effort. He lost his scholarship when his job caused him to miss the September registration date, and for the next eighteen months, he worked at the shipyards during the day and went to art school at night. With the arrival of his draft notice, Gammon joined the navy and served from 1944 to 1946 ...

Article

Amalia K. Amaki

painter, printmaker, and educator, was born in Penllyn, Pennsylvania. He began drawing at age five and maintained an interest in art as he grew up as a means of overcoming severe shyness related to a speech impediment. His mother died when he was fifteen and he left Philadelphia the following year and relocated to Washington, D.C., where he attended Dunbar High School from 1918 until 1920 and briefly took classes at Howard University. By 1922 Goreleigh was living in Harlem and working as a waiter. He saw the first Harmon Foundation exhibition of African American art at the International House in 1926 and was inspired to take drawing lessons at the Art Students League. In Harlem during the culturally rich New Negro era, he met a number of talented people, including the poet Claude McKay, the painters Aaron Douglas and Norman Lewis and the musician ...

Article

Anne K. Driscoll

painter, printmaker, and illustrator, was born in Gardens Corner, South Carolina, the second of seven children of Ruth J. Green (a home manager) and Melvin Green (occupation unknown). Green is possibly the first person of Gullah descent to train at a professional art school. The Gullah are the descendants of West African slaves who lived on and near the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina.

Great things were expected of Green from the time of his birth. He was born with an inner fetal membrane covering his head and for this reason was considered a “child of the Veil” (Green). In Gullah culture the Veil marks children “touched by uncommonness and magic that will bring inordinate grace to the community.” Traveling to New York seeking employment, Green's mother left Green in the care of his maternal grandmother, Eloise Stewart Johnson Green was interested in art ...

Article

Aaron Myers

David Hammons was born in Springfield, Illinois. After growing up in the Midwest, he moved to Los Angeles in 1964 to study art. In the 1960s, the progress of the Civil Rights Movement and the inception of the Black Power Movement encouraged artists of African descent to both produce a more racially conscious art and challenge stereotypes of African Americans. After completing his studies in 1972, Hammons began to create prints of his body using margarine or grease. In 1975 he made Harlem his home and started forging sculptures from materials he collected on the street. He executed these assemblages in public spaces using such found objects as spades, chains, bottle caps, deflated inner tubes, barbecue bones, and African American hair in an effort to explore African American identity.

The spade is a reoccurring motif in Hammons s body prints and sculptures He said I remember being called ...

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Morgan Falconer

American installation artist, performance artist and sculptor. He studied in Los Angeles at the Chouinard Art Institute and the Otis Art Institute before settling in New York in 1974. He first gained a reputation for his series of Body Prints in the early 1970s. Often resembling X-rays in their detail and translucency, they are direct imprints of the body made on paper with grease. Injustice Case (1973; Los Angeles, CA, Mus. Contemp. A.) is typical in dealing with a contemporary racial issue, with the American flag framing the image presented in opposition to cultural and racial stereotypes; see also African–American Flag, 1990. Contemporaneous with these were the Spade series which featured garden spades as defiant metaphors for his race appropriating a derogatory term used by prejudiced whites These served as a prelude to the found object sculptures he began to make in the ...

Article

Robert Fikes

painter, printmaker, and educator, was born Hughie Lee Smith in Eustis, Florida, the son of Luther Smith and Alice Williams, a singer. His parents separated soon after his birth, and his mother moved her son to Atlanta, where he was raised by his paternal grandmother, Queenie Victoria Williams, until the age of nine. Hughie's relatives encouraged his early interest in drawing, and when his mother remarried and brought him to Cleveland, Ohio, she enrolled him in a Saturday children's art class at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where he was the only African American student. In junior high and high school he joined art and drama clubs, the debate team, and the track team, a fellow member of which was the future Olympian Jesse Owens While at East Technical High School a classmate suggested that he hyphenate his name to make it seem less ...

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Theresa Leininger-Miller

artist, was born in France, but the exact place of his birth is unknown. Nothing is known about his parents or his youth, but it seems likely that he received a traditional artistic education in Europe. Lion's lithographs were exhibited at the prestigious Paris Salons of 1831 (four prints, including L'affût aux canards [Duck Blind], which won honorable mention), 1834 (four works, including a scene based on Victor Hugo'sNôtre Dame de Paris), and 1836 (lithographs after Van Dyck, Jacquand, Waltier, Boulanger, and others). In the mid-1830s Lion immigrated to New Orleans, where the 1837 city directory listed him as a freeman of color and as a painter and lithographer; he worked in a lithography shop opened by the newspaper L'Abeille (The Bee Light skinned Lion often passed for white and appeared in other records as such His studio was located at ...

Article

Terrie Sultan

painter, photographer, printmaker, and installation artist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the second son of James Marshall, a postal service worker, and Ora Dee Prentice Marshall, a songwriter and entrepreneur, both of Birmingham. Marshall's family moved to Los Angeles in 1963, living in the Nickerson Gardens public housing project in Watts before settling in South Central Los Angeles.

Marshall s artistic inclinations were kindled by a kindergarten teacher at Birmingham s Holy Family Catholic School who kept a picture filled scrapbook for her young charges This image compendium fed Marshall s obsession with making art Impressed by his creativity and drive his elementary junior high and high school teachers encouraged him with special opportunities Marshall learned his first painting techniques from his third grade teacher Later an art instructor at George Washington Carver Junior High introduced Marshall to the Los Angeles County Museum ...