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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 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 ...

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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 ...

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Dorothy B. Porter

Patrick Henry Reason was born in New York City, one of four children of Michel and Elizabeth Melville Reason. He was baptized on April 17, 1816, as Patrice Rison. His father, Michel Rison, was from Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe, and his mother, Elizabeth Melville, was from Santo Domingo (in what is now the Dominican Republic). Patrick's young sister, Policarpe, died in 1818 at age four. His brother Elver (or Elwer) did not attain the prominence that Patrick or his brother Charles Lewis did. All three brothers received their early education at the New York African Free School, established on Mulberry Street by the New York Manumission Society. Patrick Reason's skill as an engraver was recognized at age thirteen when he made an engraving of the African Free School that was printed as a frontispiece of Charles C. Andrews's History of the New York African ...