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Jerry C. Waters

an interdisciplinary artist and musician, was born Terry Roger Adkins in Washington, D.C., the eldest of five children of Robert Hamilton Adkins, a teacher and a musician, and Doris Jackson Adkins, a homemaker and musician. Adkins was raised in Alexandria, Virginia.

The artistic and musical achievements of Terry Adkins are linked to his formative years. Born in the racially segregated South, he attended a predominantly black primary school in Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated in 1971 from Ascension Academy a mostly white Catholic high school Adkins s parents encouraged his artistic talents and academic pursuits because education was valued within the extended Adkins family His father Robert Hamilton Adkins was a chemistry and science teacher at Parker Gray High School a predominantly black school in Alexandria and performed within the community as an organist and vocalist Adkins s grandfather the Reverend Andrew Warren Adkins pastored Alfred Street Baptist ...


Caryn E. Neumann and Starla Alexander-Evilsizor

a multimedia artist who incorporates found material from his urban environment to depict African American life, was born in Los Angeles. As a hairdresser in his mother's beauty shop, Bradford developed his artistic sensibility. He did not seriously examine painting until college. He earned a B.F.A. in 1995 and an M.F.A in 1997, both from the California Institute of Arts.

His studio once his mother s beauty shop sits in the Leimert Park neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles The studio is symbolic of Bradford s close connection to the community that fueled and continues to drive much of his work Although Bradford refers to his works as paintings he does not paint in the traditional sense with brushes or supplies from an art store Much of his paint consists of found material and his palette is the range of colors that occur in the materials primarily paper that ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Jerry C. Waters

artist and musician, was born Lonnie Bradley Holley in Birmingham, Alabama, and was, according to Holley in a personal interview, the seventh child of twenty-seven children born to his mother, Dorothy May Holley Crawford, and to his father, Arthur James Bradley.

Holley s childhood and adolescence were extremely difficult in that he experienced intense poverty physical abuse and homelessness Following his birth Holley s mother placed him with a woman who moved to Ohio Four years later she returned to Birmingham and gave him to another woman known as Big Mama and her husband Big Daddy in exchange for a bottle of bootleg whiskey Holley ran away from them because of continual corporeal punishment he received from Big Daddy As a result of this decision Holley lived with several foster families was incarcerated in the Alabama Industrial School for Boys and Girls in Mount Meigs and spent time ...


Tim Haslett

visual artist, filmmaker, and cinematographer, was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and grew up in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the son of Rowena and Arthur Fielder. He studied architecture and film at Howard University from 1978 to 1982. While there, he worked with the filmmaker Haile Gerima, who became a mentor and an influential friend. Jafa's concerns with the centrality of the Middle Passage and slavery in the African Diaspora led him to rethink the political and aesthetic importance of defining “blackness,” and how what Jafa called “primal sites” are crucial to any project concerned with the liberation of people of African descent.

Renowned for his cinematography on Julie Dash's path-breaking film Daughters of the Dust (1992 Jafa put into practice techniques he had long been theorizing Black Visual Intonation was a radical aesthetic notion about the mechanics of filmmaking Jafa won Sundance Film Festival ...


Jacqueline Asher

artist, was born in the Bronx, New York, to Clarence Ligon, an auto plant line supervisor, and Andrena Hooks, a nurse's aide. Reared in the South Bronx, Ligon attended Walden School, a progressive private school in Manhattan on scholarship beginning in 1966 and graduating with his high school diploma in 1978. In the fall he enrolled as a studio art major at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Later, in 1981, he also studied briefly at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. It was at Wesleyan that he first exhibited his work—a series of abstract paintings done for his senior thesis—at the school's Davison Art Center in 1982; that same year he earned his bachelor's degree in Studio Art. In the fall of 1984 Ligon studied at the prestigious Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York.

Although he began his ...


Shanna L. Smith

poet, dramatist, and artist, was born Estella Marie Conwill in Louisville, Kentucky, the only daughter of the six children of Mary Luella (Herndon) and Adolph Conwill, of whom little else is known. Growing up during the 1950s civil rights era had a profound impact on the burgeoning writer. Struggling to articulate radical changes in her segregated Louisville community and to explain those changes as one of a handful of blacks in a local Catholic school honed her particular and peculiar voice. Language, ideas, and the spoken word titillated her passion for storytelling. In 1980 that singleness of vision led her to be among the first scholars to earn a doctorate in African American literature from the University of Iowa and to pen several books, including Come Out the Wilderness: Memoir of a Black Woman Artist (1999).

An early portion of her memoir related her ...


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 ...


Jennifer Lynn Headley

cultural critic, historian, performance and installation artist, photographer, writer, and activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her mother, Lena, emigrated from Jamaica to Boston in the 1920s. She earned a BA from Wellesley College in Spanish and Economics and an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Iowa, studying-in its renowned Writers' Workshop. From Iowa, she moved to New York City and began writing for the Village Voice and Rolling Stone as a rock critic. She changed her career course with her first performance pieces in the 1980s and her critical writings about art and its effect on students and peers.

O'Grady's first performed as Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire, loosely translated into Ms. Black Middle Class; her alter ego was a rowdy uninvited guest to numerous high-profile art exhibitions. Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire Goes to JAM (1980), Mlle Bourgeoise Noire Goes to ...


Charmagne Andrews

visual artist, was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had four siblings and was the only boy of four children born to his parents, Frances Walker Payton, a seamstress, and Walter Payton, a postal worker and truck driver. His father had also served in World War II in Italy and North Africa. Martin Payton's half-brother, Walter Payton Jr, was a famous musician in the city and the father of renowned New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton.

His formal education as a visual artist began at Xavier University of Louisiana where he met role model mentor and lifelong friend John T Scott visual artist and MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow His experience at Xavier represented the first time that Payton understood that art could be a career He has noted that he knew he would always make art but he had always thought that it would be an avocation ...


Lisa E. Rivo

sculptor and installation artist, was born in New York City and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. Little is known of Richards's parents or early education, but he earned a BA from Queens College in 1985 and an MA from New York University in 1992. The following year he was one of twelve studio artists in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Richards also completed the Artist-in-the-Marketplace Program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in 1994 and was an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 1995 to 1996, at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens, in 1997, and at the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in Miami, Florida, from 1997 to 1999. Richards won an Art Matters, Inc. grant and was awarded free studio space from 1994 to 1995 by ...


Rebecca Peabody

sculptor and multimedia artist, was born in Los Angeles to Betye and Richard Saar. Alison Saar's education and early artistic exploration were influenced by her richly multicultural background; her mother's ancestry included European, Native American, and African American heritage, while her father was of German and Scottish origin. One of three daughters, Alison Saar was raised in Laurel Canyon, where her parents encouraged her artistic development by taking her to area museums and to noninstitutional works of art, such as Simon Rodia's Watts Towers in south Los Angeles and Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village in Simi Valley. Betye Saar was an active artist who exposed her daughters to printmaking and collage processes, as well as to her belief in the spiritual power of objects. Her father, a conservator and artist, introduced Alison to the composition and aesthetics of the non-Western art he handled through his work.

After high school ...


Paula Allen

to Mary Mable (Holmes), a homemaker, and Thomas Scott, a cook and chauffeur. His parents taught him rudimentary craft skills—basic carpentry and embroidery. Scott graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1958 and in 1962 from Xavier University of Louisiana, a predominantly black Catholic institution, where he began his formal art training. In 1965 he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Michigan State University in Lansing. Within a year of his graduation, he married Ana Rita Smith and launched his professional career as an artist and teacher at their alma mater—Xavier University.

Scott’s Christian upbringing and formative classical training are extant in the pervasive figurative elements and spiritual imagery that are consummately infused in his work. During the 1960s and 1970s his work was punctuated by religious images such as Lazarus (1967 However his contemporaneous riposte to issues that were at the forefront of black ...


Michele Elam

artist, was born in Stockton, California, to Gwen and Larry Walker, an artist and emeritus professor of art at Georgia State University. The youngest of three children in the family, Walker grew up in an artistically stimulating environment. Her father was chairman of the art department at the University of the Pacific, where her mother, in the School of Pharmacy, also worked, and Larry Walker enrolled his daughter at a very young age in children's art classes that he had organized for young people. Both parents encouraged her artistic and creative interests.

As a result of court-ordered busing in the 1970s, she first attended the predominantly white Kennedy Elementary School in north Stockton, then in second grade was bused to the more racially diverse King Elementary School in south Stockton, and then in third grade again bused to Kennedy Elementary, which by then had become more integrated.

Walker ...


Kim Miller

South African artist, writer, and human rights activist, was born in Lichfield, England, in 1941. Williamson’s family emigrated to South Africa in 1948, just months before the Nationalist Party came into power. Raised in what was then the Western Transvaal, Williamson studied journalism at the University of Natal (Durban). In 1969 she achieved a fine arts degree at the Art Students League of New York. Williamson returned to South Africa in 1969 and received an advanced diploma in fine arts from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town in 1984. She became a South African citizen in 1990, once it was clear that apartheid was coming to an end.

As artist Sue Williamson is highly respected for her involvement in human rights organizations associated with the antiapartheid movement and for her efforts to make visible the experiences of people and communities who were marginalized ...


Leora Maltz Leca

curator and artist, was born in the Bronx, New York. His mother and father, both native New Yorkers, were of Caribbean and African American descent respectively. While Wilson identified with the analytical and critical capacities of his civil engineer father, he credited his mother, an art teacher, with nurturing his creativity from a young age. Growing up in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and suburban Westchester County, Wilson attended New York's High School of Music and Art, and frequented the New York City museums throughout his youth. He received a bachelor of fine arts from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Purchase in 1976 though even as an art student he seemed to have been more interested in spatial relationships and performance than in a traditional medium such as painting In his senior year of college he traveled to West Africa spending time in Ghana Nigeria Togo and ...