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Leora Maltz Leca

painter and printmaker, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to a family with a long line of educated and powerful women. Her grandmother, Emma, was a college-educated university professor in the 1890s, and her mother, India, was a similarly educated partner in the family drugstore with her father, Miles. Her paternal lineage included a grandfather who was the first black pharmacist in the state of Georgia. The family's social circle included such figures as Booker T. Washington and Zora Neale Hurston. Along with her older brother, Larry, Amos attended schools in Atlanta's then-segregated public school system—first E. R. Carter Elementary and then Booker T. Washington High School.

Amos remembered wishing to be an artist from an early age and eventually she enrolled in Ohio s Antioch College with a firm interest in the visual arts She earned a BA from Antioch in Fine Arts as well as an etching ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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

Cynthia Greenlee-Donnell

visual artist, was born in Long Creek, North Carolina, the only child of Joseph Kelley and Ella Kelley, farmers. Evans was raised primarily by her maternal grandmother, a domestic worker in the Wrightsville Beach resort community. Evans also believed she had roots in the Caribbean, and specifically, Trinidad, which was reported to be the ancestral home of a female slave ancestor who came to the United States via the Charleston seaport. While Evans was in the sixth grade, financial necessity forced her to abandon her studies. She became a sounder, a type of traveling vendor who sold shellfish from the Atlantic Ocean.

As a young girl, Evans had persistent, color-drenched dreams that informed her nascent, creative vision. The spectral revelations continued well into her adulthood, well after her marriage to Julius Caesar Evans at age sixteen. The Evanses had three sons, Elisha, David, and George ...

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Minnie Jones Evans was raised by her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother in Wilmington, North Carolina. She left school after the fifth grade and began working. She was perpetually employed in low-paying jobs. At age sixteen, in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, she married Julius Caesar Evans, with whom she had three sons. Her artistic career began on Good Friday in 1935, when she began drawing in response to visions, voices, and dreams she claimed to have since childhood, whose message, she said, was “Draw or die!”

Working with simple materials crayon graphite ink and oils on paper or board Evans created thousands of mixed media drawings and collages inspired by her visions in which stylized flowers and foliage exotic birds strange creatures angels and royal or divine figures are major motifs Self taught hence an outsider rather than folk artist and a devout Christian who knew the Bible by ...

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

Amalia K. Amaki

sculptor, painter, and printmaker, was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies, the only child of Malcolm, a pharmacist, and Miriam Knight, a homemaker. Knight lost her father when she was two, and her mother suffered a severe leg injury that permanently limited her mobility when a hurricane struck the island while she was still very young. As a result Gwen grew up with foster parents and moved with this family to the United States in 1920, settling in St. Louis, Missouri. Always writing, drawing, and dancing she completed her first paintings between the ages of eight and nine years of age. At thirteen she moved with her family to New York, where she attended Wadleigh Annex and Wadleigh Street School for Girls. She was an avid reader of newspapers and modern literature, especially the work of Countée Cullen, Virginia Woolf, and Zora Neale Hurston ...

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 ...

Article

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 ...

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Cynthia Hawkins

painter and printmaker, was born Norma Gloria Morgan in New Haven, Connecticut, the only child of Ethel Morgan, a seamstress, fashion designer, singer, and poet. Norma began painting at age nine and completed a mural for her classroom at age thirteen. Morgan said that while she painted the mural, she listened to her teacher speak of history and mathematics; it was then she decided that art would be her career. The first African American artist Morgan came into contact with the artist and writer Elton Fax while she was still a high school student in New Haven. After graduating from high school in New Haven, Morgan studied for a year at the Whitney School of Art in New Haven. In 1949 Morgan moved with her mother to New York City where Fax assisted the two in finding living accommodations and where Ethel started a new business as ...

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crystal am nelson

professor, printmaker, artist, and curator, was born Stephanie Elaine Pogue in Shelby, North Carolina, to Elbert Hugo Pogue, a doctor, and Mildred Wallace. She was raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

In 1962 Pogue enrolled in Syracuse University, but transferred to Howard University one year later. She earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from Howard in 1966 and a master of fine arts degree from Cranbrook Academy in Michigan in 1968. Her art historical expertise included the sculptural art of the Bamana people of Mali, reliquary art of the Bakota people in Gabon, and the sacred Hindu art of India. In 1968 she joined the fine arts faculty as an assistant professor for Tennessee's Fisk University, one of the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the alma mater of W. E. B. Du Bois During her tenure ...

Article

Dox Thrash was born in Griffin, Georgia. After studying for several years at the Art Institute of Chicago, Thrash settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Once there he painted signs and worked on the Federal Arts Project (FAP) to earn a living. Working with the FAP, in the Graphic Division, he helped invent a new lithographic process, called the carborundum print-process. This created prints with more expressive tones and variation. His carbographs explored the portraits of African Americans, landscapes, and scenes of slum life. My Neighbor (1937) and the landscape Deserted Cabin (1939) are examples of Thrash's carbographs. In the late 1930s and through the 1940s Thrash's work was shown in many prominent places, including a 1942 solo exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

See also Artists, African American.