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Edmund Abaka

William Anton Amo (1703–1756), philosopher and educator, was an academic par excellence and a courtier in Germany at a time when there were very few, if any, Africans studying, let alone lecturing, in Europe. He was most likely the first black professor to teach in Germany. Amo’s achievements are all the more significant considering that they occurred about three centuries ago.

Amo was born in 1703 in a small village called Awukenu, near Axim, in the southwestern Gold Coast (now Ghana). The circumstances of Amo’s arrival in the Netherlands are not clear. One version indicates that in 1707 Amo s parents entrusted him to a Brunswick subject working for the Dutch West Indian Company on the Gold Coast By this time the Dutch had superseded the Portuguese and taken over the Portuguese fortified positions on the Gold Coast São Jorge da Mina Elmina São Sebastiao Shama and ...

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Amalia K. Amaki

sculptor, ceramicist, and educator, was one of America's most prolific and respected three‐dimensional artists in the mid‐twentieth century. Born in Washington, North Carolina, to Elizabeth Davis and Thomas Miggett, he lived primarily with his father until the fall of 1926 when he relocated to Harlem and began living with his mother and her husband, George Artis. In New York he assumed the surname of his stepfather. He attended Haaren High School and went on to study sculpture and pottery at the Augusta Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in the early 1930s, joining the ranks of Jacob Armstead Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight, Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, and other notable artists whose initial studies included instruction under Savage. Artis was also a contemporary of his fellow sculptors Selma Hortense Burke and Richmond Barthé the latter the most exhibited and honored three dimensional artist associated with ...

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Mikael D. Kriz

architect, was born Walter Thomas Bailey in Kewanee, Illinois, to Emanuel Bailey and Lucy Reynolds. After attending Kewanee High School, Walter enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1900. There he studied in the architecture program, which was then part of the College of Engineering. The program at Illinois differed from those at most other architecture schools in the country: many schools followed in the tradition of the École des Beaux-Arts, emphasizing classical modes and principles of architecture, but the program at Illinois was influenced largely by German polytechnic methods of teaching. At Illinois, Bailey received an extensive education in the science of construction and in the history of architecture. Construction courses gave students both theoretical and practical training, while courses in the history of architecture taught them periods and styles such as Egyptian and Islamic, as well as classical.

As a student Bailey was ...

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Amalia K. Amaki

photographer and educator, was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Florida and Robert Battey, both laborers. He was living in New York City by his late teens and had become one of the most famous African American photographers in the country by 1900, although nothing is known about his educational background. In 1900 Battey married Anna H. Stokes, who gave birth to two daughters, Edyphe F. (born 1901) and Antoinette (born 1908). Affiliated with studios in Cleveland and New York, his primary base, he enjoyed a lucrative career as a studio and commercial photographer with a respected reputation among Americans and Europeans. He was superintendent of the Bradley Studio in New York with such clientele as Sir Thomas Lipton and Prince Henry of Prussia, and was a partner in Battey and Warren Studio in the city.

Battey made classic photogravure portraits of the Tuskegee Normal and ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

a portrait photographer, was born David Edward Smikle in Jamaica, Queens, New York, to Mary Smikle and Kenneth Smikle. He changed his name to Dawoud Bey in the early 1970s. Bey received his first camera, an Argus C3 rangefinder, in 1968 and began to learn how to take pictures. In 1973 he apprenticed to Levey J. Smith at MOT Photography Studio in Hollis, New York, and began spending time at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Bey then attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City for a year but left in 1978 to accept an artist's position with the Cultural Council Foundation CETA Artists Project in New York. He graduated with a B.A. from Empire State College, State University of New York, in 1990. He also earned an M.F.A. from the Yale University School of Art in 1993.

Bey emerged as a documentarian of ...

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

Terencia Kyneata Joseph

was born on the Leeward Caribbean island of Nevis. The names and occupations of his parents are not known. Around the age of 15, he migrated to the United States in 1980 to complete his education. He attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in 1989. In 1997 he was awarded a master of fine arts degree from Hunter College, City University of New York.

Very little research has been done on Boddie’s years as a young man in Nevis. It is not clear whether he immigrated to the United States with any members of his immediate family or what the arrangements were for his stay upon arrival. It is known that he has two older sisters, whose photographs are featured in his work Mourning Memory (1998).

Boddie has described himself as a multidisciplinary artist who uses the ...

Article

Rebecca Martin Nagy

artist and educator, was born in Addis Ababa to an Ethiopian mother and an Armenian father who was a colonel in the Imperial Body Guard of Haile Selassie. Boghossian received early art training at Tafari Makonnen Secondary School and in private lessons with Stanislas Chojnacki, a historian of Ethiopian art and water-colorist, then librarian at the University College of Addis Ababa (later Haile Selassie I University and now Addis Ababa University), and with Jacques Godbout, a Canadian writer, filmmaker, and painter who taught French at the University College.

In 1955 Boghossian won second prize at an art exhibition held as part of Haile Selassie s Jubilee Anniversary Celebration and was awarded an imperial scholarship to study in London After attending classes at St Martin s School the Central School and the Slade School of Fine Art in London the young artist decided to transfer his studies to Paris where ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

artist and political activist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1937 Bolden received a four‐year scholarship to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, where he majored in illustration and advertising design. Upon his graduation he became an artist and layout designer for a top advertising agency in Philadelphia. His duties included prep work for original work by Norman Rockwell. In fact Bolden and Rockwell became close friends, and it was Rockwell who “encouraged Bolden to use neighbors and local townspeople as models for his art,” according to a New Hampshire Circle of Friends flyer.

After World War II Mel Bolden moved to New York and became a full‐time illustrator, working first for black newspapers, then for such general magazines as Fortune, Saturday Review, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Boy's Life, as well as for major newspapers like the New York Times and the New York ...

Article

Dália Leonardo

artist and educator, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. When he was ten, his family moved to Philadelphia, where he eventually attended South Philadelphia High School. In 1930 Brown graduated from the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, having specialized in public-school art education. In 1933 Brown was the first African American accepted into the Pennsylvania Public Works of Art Project a New Deal program owing in large part to the influence of Fiske Kimball who was the director of the Pennsylvania Museum of Art and an admirer of Brown s watercolors The Public Works of Art Project enabled Brown to exhibit his art in a number of venues including the Harmon Foundation in New York City Howard University the University of Pennsylvania and the Baltimore Museum of Art Kimball proved to be a steady ally inquiring about scholarship and travel funds for Brown and referring him to ...

Article

Michael Niblett

was born on 24 September 1920 in the village of Agricola in British Guiana (now Guyana). The only son of Ethel Robertson and Alan Carew, he had a middle-class upbringing. Between 1926 and 1938, he attended Agricola Wesleyan School, then Catholic elementary school, followed by Berbice High School in New Amsterdam, Guyana. In 1939 he was called up to serve in the British army, and four years later he became a customs officer in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital. He published his first written work in the Guyanese magazine Christmas Annual in 1944, while also experimenting with painting and drawing in his leisure time. From 1945 to 1949, he studied in the United States, first at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., and then at Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1948 Carew exhibited his paintings at the Cleveland Public Library Returning to Guyana a year later he ...

Article

Kimberly Curtis

visual artist, educator, and activist, was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the second of the seven children of Dana C. Chandler Sr., a longshoreman, and Ruth Chandler. At age five Dana Chandler Jr. and his family moved to Roxbury, Massachusetts, a predominantly African American community. Chandler's parents, who had not attended school beyond the ninth and eleventh grades, raised their children to recognize the importance of completing high school and earning a college degree. Chandler grew up in a poor, working-class family and attended Boston's public schools throughout childhood and adolescence. He received primary and elementary education at the Asa Gray and Sherwin schools. After a six-month hospital stay to treat rheumatic fever, he transferred from Boston Latin School to J.P. Timility Junior High School. At Boston Technical High School his art teachers Ralph Rosenthal and Gunnar Munnick inspired him to become an artist. In 1959 Chandler graduated ...

Article

Robyn McGee

of Cuban descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, to parents whose names are unknown. Cruz's work encompassed a variety of influences, including Latin American, African, Egyptian, and Native American art. Cruz's dream‐like images in an array of dazzling colors, shapes, and movement, reflect his absorption of the Abstract Expressionist painters of American modernism. His canvases fused bold primary colors to create figurations, both animal and human, sometimes depicting distortions of violent and destructive behaviors. Through pen and brush, Cruz created a legacy of art with unique designs, historical significance and cultural awareness.

As a young man, Cruz studied art at the Art Students League and the New School for Social Research in New York, the Seong Moy in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and the New School for Social Research, New York. The year 1957 was a pivotal one in Cruz s life and ...

Article

Kimberly L. Malinowski

landscape and figure painter, was born in Wood County, near Parkersburg, West Virginia, to Charles T. Dodd and Senora Tibbs Dodd. Dodd attended local schools and began studying art by correspondence. In 1925 he attended the West Virginia Colored Institute (later West Virginia State College) in Institute, West Virginia. He graduated second in his class and was student body president. In 1929 he received a scholarship to study at the National Academy of Design in New York.

In 1932 Dodd returned to West Virginia and worked as an art professor at Bluefield State College in Bluefield West Virginia Dodd was a practicing artist during the years that he taught He taught numerous classes showcasing his many talents He taught introduction to art classes for public school teachers not aspiring to be practicing artists but who wished to have some art background The range of Dodd s teaching ...

Article

David Borsvold

architect, teacher. and education administrator, was born in Belvoir, Chatham County, North Carolina, one of six children of William Gaston Snipes, a white farmer, and Mary Foushee Edwards, a black homemaker and farm worker. Some uncertainty exists as to Edwards's precise year of birth, with contradictory U.S. Census records allowing for a birth date sometime between 1874 and 1879. Census records show that his parents were legally registered as living side by side on different land parcels, because interracial marriage was illegal in North Carolina during this time. Edwards's earliest education was given at home and at local schools, and he worked during the evenings as a barber and a farmhand to help support the family.

Edwards earned enough money to attend Agricultural & Mechanical College for the Colored Race (now known as North Carolina A&T State University) at Greensboro in 1896 After amassing sufficient ...

Article

Monifa Love Asante

visual artist and educator, was born Melvin Eugene Edwards Jr., in Houston, Texas, the eldest of four children of Thelmarie Felton Edwards and Melvin Eugene Edwards Sr. His father was a brilliant and gifted man who worked as a waiter, laborer in the oil industry, photographer, and a professional scout for the Boy Scouts of America. His mother, a seamstress, from whom Edwards learned to sew, was also athletically and artistically talented. His grandmother was a quilter, whose patternmaking and use of color influenced Edwards. Woodcarving was passed down on his father's side, and one of his maternal ancestors was a blacksmith brought to America from West Africa. Both his father and George Gilbert, a family friend that Edwards considered an uncle, were interested in art and they nurtured Edwards. His father built his first easel. Edwards Sr. also passed on a love of music especially ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

writer, poet, photographer, and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., in what he has been quoted as saying was a “so-called single parent household” (quoted in Davis). He attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. He recalled in an interview that his early life in the nation's capital shaped his poetry. “I have stayed connected to the music, the people, the folk of DC,” he told the Washington Post. “My movements have been for universities—these things that one feels are a job. My roots always are and still are in DC” (Gebhardt, p. PG24). Ellis earned a BA at Harvard University.

With Sharan Strange, a fellow Harvard graduate and poet, Ellis started the Dark Room Reading Series in 1989 in Cambridge Massachusetts at a house they rented The series which ran until the late 1990s led a number of African American writers and poets to enroll in Masters in ...

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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

Frank Martin

artist, writer, illustrator and educator, was born Elton Clay Fax, the son of Mark Oakland and Willie Estele Fax in Baltimore, Maryland. Fax initially matriculated at the historically black institution Claflin University, in Orangeburg, South Carolina, but completed his studies and received a BFA at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, in 1931. On 12 March 1929, Fax married the former Grace Elizabeth Turner, and their union produced three children.

In 1934 Fax painted a well-received mural, commissioned by the Public Works of Art Projects (PWAP) at Baltimore's Dunbar High School, depicting the incorporation of southern, black agrarians into the urban, industrial north. Fax's representation of the Great Migration and a pluralistic American workforce was an ideal example of the American Social-Realist art that was supported by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal projects Social Realism was a popular style in the 1930s ...

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 ...