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Cynthia Hawkins

ceramist, sculptor, filmmaker, and cofounder (with her husband, James Hatch) of the Hatch‐Billops Collection, an archive of African American cultural history, was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lucius Billops, a cook and merchant seaman, and Alma Gilmore, a dressmaker, maid, and aircraft assembly worker. Billops graduated from Catholic Girls High School in 1952, and in 1954 she began her studies at the University of Southern California. She majored in occupational therapy, which included drawing, sculpture, and ceramics. She transferred to Los Angeles State College in 1956 after she became pregnant, and then she changed her major to special education. Billops worked during the day as a bank bookkeeper and maintained a full academic workload in the evening. At the end of 1956 her daughter, Christa, was born, and Billops put her up for adoption. This was an experience she would explore in her 1992 ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

a still photographer and documentary filmmaker, was born in Houston, Texas, the second child and only daughter of the schoolteacher Mollie Carroll Parrott and the dentist Frederick Douglas Parrott Sr. At least one grandparent had been born a slave. Both parents were the first in their respective families to obtain advanced college degrees, but racism kept the family poor. The Parrotts lived in the Third Ward, one of Houston's African American neighborhoods, and Blue attended a segregated grade school. As she wrote in her memoir, The Dawn at My Back, the challenges of growing up poor and black in a racist, classist society put a shadow over her life.

Blue did not intend to pursue a career in the visual arts. She enrolled as an English literature student, specializing in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English Renaissance period, at Boston University in 1960 with the goal of becoming ...

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Joshunda Sanders

was born in Harlem to Richard Hill, of North Carolina, and Mae De Veaux, who had immigrated from the Caribbean. De Veaux is the second-oldest of eight children and has said on her personal website that she was drawn to the world of books and words to “reimagine the world her mother understood” only as “you got three strikes against you. You poor, you black and you female.”

During the Black Arts Movement and other social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, De Veaux found herself inspired to create a different reality on the page. She worked as an assistant instructor in English for the New York Urban League between 1969 and 1971.

Under the guidance of the writer Fred Hudson, who was leading the writing workshop at the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center in Harlem, she won first place in a 1972 national black fiction writer s ...

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Catherine M. Grant and Margaret Rose Vendryes

American printmaker, film maker, installation and conceptual artist and writer.

Green, of African descent, has worked primarily with film-based media, and has published criticism and designed installations that reveal her commitment to ongoing feminist and black empowerment movements. She earned her BA from Wesleyan University in 1981 and also spent some time at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1980, returning in the late 1980s to study in the Whitney Independent Study Program, graduating in 1990. At the age of 24 she began exhibiting her comparative compositions containing found objects, images, and texts that question recorded history.

Green’s work deals with issues of anthropology and travel. By undertaking projects via the methodology of the 19th-century explorer, she exposed the arbitrary and prejudiced nature of classification, as in Bequest (1991; see 1993 exh cat an installation she made at the ...

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C. M. Winston

artist, curator, art historian, filmmaker, writer, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Howard Pindell and Mildred, both educators. By the age of eight Pindell already aspired to be an artist, and she attended Saturday drawing classes at the Fleischer Art Memorial.

Pindell graduated cum laude with a BFA from Boston University and earned an MFA from Yale University's School of Art and Architecture in 1967. She moved to New York City in 1967 after graduating from Yale and she worked primarily as a painter of nonobjective and figurative works during the early years of her career That year she landed a job at the Museum of Modern Art MoMA as an exhibition assistant in the department of national and international circulating exhibitions At MoMA she rose through the ranks from curatorial assistant to associate curator in ...

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Anne K. Swartz

African American photographer and multimedia artist. Simpson attended the High School of Art and Design then received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York City in 1982 and her MFA in Visual Arts from University of California, San Diego in 1985. She focused on photography for both degrees. While still in graduate school she started complicating the presumed transparency of photography, experimenting with the clarity of the narrative, the deconstruction of narrative as associated with photography and an investigation of the transparency of photography. She would incorporate images of a figure turned away from the viewer alongside text that commented on the experience of women of colour in the patriarchy, as evidenced in The Waterbearer (1996 New York Sean and Mary Kelly col A lone female figure pours water from two containers and the text at the bottom proclaims She Saw ...

Article

Pamela Lee Gray

dancer, artist's model, and dance instructor, was born in Early County, Georgia, sometime in 1908. Information about her parents and childhood years is unavailable.

Known professionally throughout her career as Maudelle, Bass moved to California around 1933 and attended classes at the Gray Conservatory of Music and Art in South Central Los Angeles. Bass was the first black dancer to be trained by modern choreographer Lester Horton, and she later danced with her instructor as part of the Lester Horton Dance Group. Bass trained in the Mary Wigman and Bess Mensendieck dance techniques, which stressed interpretation and stark movement, often without music or to a simple drum or percussion instrument. Dr. Bess Mensendieck taught to liberate women from traditional movement and showcased the use of the natural body as a modern form.

Bass also joined a number of black dancers who were interested in studying ...