1-18 of 18 results  for:

  • African American Studies x
  • Results with images only x
Clear all

Article

Theresa Leininger-Miller

sculptor, was born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, the son of Richmond Barthé and Marie Clementine Roboteau, a seamstress. His father died when Barthé was one month old. Barthé began drawing as a child and first exhibited his work at the county fair in Mississippi at age twelve. He did not attend high school, but he learned about his African heritage from books borrowed from a local grocer and publications given to him by a wealthy white family that vacationed in Bay St. Louis. This family, which had connections to Africa through ambassadorships, hired Barthé as a butler when he was in his teens; he moved with them to New Orleans. At age eighteen Barthé won first prize for a drawing he sent to the Mississippi County Fair. Lyle Saxon, the literary critic for the New Orleans Times Picayune then attempted to register Barthé in a ...

Article

Tritobia Hayes Benjamin

One of the chores assigned to the Burke children every Saturday was to whitewash the fireplaces with a wash made of local clay. Selma Hortense Burke discovered right away that this clay could be molded into delightful shapes. Her varied career as a teacher, arts administrator, model, and nurse was one of distinction and achievement, but it is her work as a sculptor that is the most memorable. Working with a variety of woods, marbles, and stones, Burke infused her figures with expressiveness, heroism, and power. She focused on the human figure, from the earliest clay figurines she created as a young artist to a statue she completed in the late 1970s of Martin Luther King Jr.

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

sculptor, printmaker, and teacher, was born Alice Elizabeth Catlett to Mary Carson, a truant officer, and John Catlett, a math teacher and amateur musician who died shortly before Elizabeth's birth. Elizabeth and her two older siblings were raised by their mother and paternal grandmother in a middle-class neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Encouraged by her mother and her teachers at Dunbar High School to pursue a career as an artist, she entered Howard University in 1931, where she studied with the African American artists James Lesesne Wells, Loïs Mailou Jones, and James A. Porter. After graduating cum laude with a BS in Art in 1935, Catlett taught art in the Durham, North Carolina, public schools before beginning graduate training at the University of Iowa in 1938 Under the tutelage of the artist Grant Wood Catlett switched her concentration from painting to sculpture and ...

Article

Freida High (Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis)

I don’t have anything against men but, since I am a woman, I know more about women and I know how they feel. Many artists are always doing men. I think that somebody ought to do women. Artists do work with women, with the beauty of their bodies and the refinement of middle-class women, but I think there is a need to express something about the working-class Black woman and that’s what I do.

(Gladstone, p. 33)

As a reputed sculptor and printmaker whose career began in the 1940s, Elizabeth Catlett is a major figure in modern American and Mexican art. Catlett’s work embraces the human condition, revealing a deep passion for dignifying humanity, especially working-class women and, in particular, African American and Mexican women. Titles of her sculpture suggest this interest: Black Woman Speaks (1970), Mother and Child (1940, 1993), Mujer (1964 ...

Article

Sylvia Arnstein

one of America’s first studio sculptors of African American ancestry who was an integral part of the artistic and social ferment that subsequently blossomed into the Harlem Renaissance. Described by her peers as “elegantly Victorian” and “deeply spiritual,” Meta Warrick Fuller was, according to W. E. B. Du Bois, “one of those persons of ability and genius whom accidents of education and opportunity had raised on a tidal wave of chance.”

Meta Vaux Warrick was born in Philadelphia to William H. Warrick Jr., a master barber, and Emma (Jones) Warrick a wigmaker and hairdresser Both owned and managed their own businesses in Philadelphia and Atlantic City New Jersey where the family spent its summers Emma Warrick s father operated a catering business and like his daughter served a largely white clientele A great grandmother brought to the American colonies as a slave was purported to be an ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

sculptor, was born Meta Vaux Warrick in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of William H. Warrick and Emma Jones. Meta's great grandmother, according to family lore, was an Ethiopian princess brought to the American colonies as a slave. Emma owned and operated several hairdressing parlors that catered to a white clientele. William owned a chain of barbershops and dabbled in real estate. Meta was ten years younger than her two siblings, William and Blanche. Through lessons and field trips to museums and concerts, the Warricks introduced their children to art and encouraged their creative endeavors. Meta, who played the guitar, took dancing lessons, and sang in the church choir, exhibited an early talent for drawing.

After graduation from public high school in 1894, Warrick won a three-year scholarship to the Pennsylvania Museum and School for Industrial Arts (now the Philadelphia College of Art). In 1897 her ...

Article

Cheryl A. Alston

artist and activist, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the third of ten children of Betty Solomon Guyton and George Guyton, a construction worker. His mother reared the children on her own after George Guyton left the-family, when Tyree Guyton was nine years old. Guyton grew up on the east side of Detroit in an area called “Black Bottom,” one of the oldest African American communities in the city. He attended Northern High School, but he did not graduate and earned his GED at a later date.

Guyton began painting at the age of eight when his grandfather, Sam Mackey a housepainter at the time who later became a painter of fine art gave him the tool to create a paintbrush Because of his family s poverty Guyton felt all he had was his art He felt like he had no freedom and he realized early on that ...

Article

Pamela Lee Gray

musician, activist, author, painter, and sculptor, was born Richard Pierce Havens in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of nine children. He grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. His father, Richard Havens, worked as a metal plater and dreamed of becoming a professional pianist, eventually learning to play a number of instruments. Richie's mother Mildred a bookbinder and casual singer at home encouraged her young son when he started singing background vocals at the age of twelve for local groups All kinds of music were played in the Havens home Richie s grandmother listened to Yiddish gospel and big band music his mother enjoyed country music and his father loved jazz He joined the doo wop singing group the Five Chances at age fifteen and performed the next year with the Brooklyn McCrea Gospel Singers a group that sang hymns for neighborhood churches Havens ...

Article

Aimee Lee Cheek and William Cheek

political leader and intellectual, was born free in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Ralph Quarles, a wealthy white slaveholding planter, and Lucy Jane Langston, a part-Native American, part-black slave emancipated by Quarles in 1806. After the deaths of both of their parents in 1834, Langston and his two brothers, well provided for by Quarles's will but unprotected by Virginia law, moved to Ohio. There Langston lived on a farm near Chillicothe with a cultured white southern family who had been friends of his father and who treated him as a son. He was in effect orphaned again in 1839 when a court hearing concluding that his guardian s impending move to slave state Missouri would imperil the boy s freedom and inheritance forced him to leave the family Subsequently he boarded in four different homes white and black in Chillicothe and Cincinnati worked ...

Article

Thomas Adams Upchurch

Born in Virginia to a wealthy white planter and a slave mother, John Mercer Langston was one of the most influential African Americans of the nineteenth century. Widely regarded by contemporaries and historians alike as second in importance only to Frederick Douglass, Langston actually superseded the venerable Douglass in certain ways. Although Douglass enjoyed more widespread renown, Langston held more government positions and had a more varied career. The two men first met in 1848 and maintained a friendship for many years thereafter. They disagreed on some important racial issues, however, which sometimes led to hard feelings and, near the end of their lives, an intense rivalry that most observers would say made them bitter enemies.

Langston was about ten years younger than Douglass and while they were both mulattoes born to slave mothers their upbringings could hardly have been more different Whereas Douglass endured the most abhorrent circumstances ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

sculptor, was born to an African American father and a mother of African American and Mississauga descent, whose names are not known. The Mississauga, a Chippewa (Ojibway in Canada) band, lived in southern Ontario. Information about Lewis's early life remains inconsistent and unverified. She was probably born in 1844 or 1845, most likely near Albany, New York. Orphaned by age nine, Lewis and her older brother, Samuel were taken in by their maternal aunts Mississaugas living near Niagara Falls Lewis joined the tribe in hunting and fishing along Lake Ontario and the Niagara River and in making and selling moccasins baskets and other souvenirs Although she later gave her Mississauga name as Wildfire Lewis s translation from the Chippewa may have been intended to authenticate her Indian background and appeal to whites She remained with the Mississauga until age twelve when Samuel using earnings amassed during the ...

Article

Lynda Roscoe Hartigan

Edmonia Lewis was the first major sculptress of African American and Native American heritage. Her early biographical circumstances are sketchily known at best. Although Lewis claimed 1854 as her birth date, it is more likely that she was born in 1843 or 1845. Various sources, including the artist herself, claimed Greenhigh, Ohio, and Greenbush, New York, as well as the vicinity of Albany, New York, as her birthplace, but none can be verified.

Lewis s father employed as a gentleman s servant was African American her mother was a Chippewa Indian who may have been born near Albany It was she who presumably named her daughter Wildfire Lewis appears to have spent little if any time with her father and instead lived with her mother s tribe Orphaned before she was five Lewis remained with the Chippewa until she was about twelve years old As Wildfire she learned to ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

sculptor, was born in Washington, D.C., the eldest of seven children of Reginald Puryear, a postal worker, and Martina Morse, a schoolteacher. Puryear was an avid reader and an illustrator of detailed drawings of insects and birds. After graduating from Archbishop Carroll High School in 1959, he entered the Catholic University of America, switching his major from biology to art in his junior year. He also began working in wood, designing and building furniture, canoes, and a collapsible guitar. After receiving a BA in Art in 1963, Puryear joined the Peace Corps, serving from 1964 to 1966 in Sierra Leone West Africa He taught French English and biology and studied the work of local carpenters and artisans whose work he discovered combined beauty with utility The vernacular architecture of the area and the centrality of simple man made objects in West African daily life ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

artist and writer, was born Faith Willie Jones at Harlem Hospital in New York City, the youngest of three children of Willi(e) Edell (Posey) and Andrew Louis Jones Sr., a truck driver for the city sanitation department. The Joneses separated in the early 1930s and divorced in 1942, by which time Willi Jones had begun work as a seamstress in the garment district. By the 1950s, using the name Madame Willi Posey, she had established a small dressmaking and design business in Harlem. Faith, who suffered from severe asthma and missed kindergarten and much of first grade because of her illness, enjoyed an especially close relationship with her mother, who organized creative projects to occupy her curious daughter. After graduating from Morris High School (she spent the first three years at George Washington High School) in 1948 Faith Jones began studying art at the City ...

Article

Michele M. Humphrey

Faith Ringgold is recognized as one of the leading artists of the twenty-first century. Her work appeared in many major museums around the world and resides in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Faith Jones Ringgold was born in Harlem, New York. She was the third child of Willi Posey Jones, a dressmaker and professional fashion designer, and Andrew Louis Jones Sr., a sanitation worker. She was troubled with asthma at an early age and found herself drawn to art as a way to pass the time. Inspired by her mother’s career and determined to pursue her own dream of becoming an artist, she enrolled at the City College of New York in 1948 Her first social barrier presented itself when she learned that women were not allowed to major in art at the ...

Article

Earnestine Jenkins

The critical role of the artist in society as a visionary, issues of gender, the psychology of racism, and the inherent complexities of American history, geography, and identity all matter in the contemporary work of artist Alison Saar.

Alison Saar was born in Los Angeles, California. She enjoys the singular distinction of being a member of a family in which each individual is involved in the visual arts. Her mother, Betye Saar, is best known as a creator of assemblage pieces characterized by their intricate design and the use of found objects. Her father, Richard Saar is a painter and art conservationist Both parents encouraged their children to study and become involved in the processes of creative visual work by exposing them to different art techniques and materials They were urged to investigate seriously a wide range of visual traditions from around the world by reading books ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

sculptor, educator, and advocate for black artists, was born Augusta Christine Fells in Green Cove Springs, Florida, the seventh of fourteen children of Edward Fells, a laborer and Methodist minister, and Cornelia Murphy. As a child, Savage routinely skipped school, preferring to model small figurines at local clay pits, much to the consternation of her religious father, who, as she recalled in a 1935 interview, “almost whipped the art out of me” (Bearden, 168). At age fifteen, Augusta married John T. Moore, and a year later a daughter, Irene Connie Moore, was born; John Moore died several years later. In 1915 the Fells family moved to West Palm Beach, where Savage taught clay modeling at her high school. She later spent a year at Tallahassee Normal School (now Florida A&M). At some point after 1915 she married a carpenter named James ...

Article

Deirdre Bibby

Augusta Savage was one of the most enigmatic figures in American art. Although she was one of the most influential individuals in Harlem during the later part of the Harlem Renaissance, her life and career remain something of a mystery. She championed social and political causes and promoted cultural and economic opportunities, particularly for African American artists and the Harlem community in the 1930s, but chose to leave that community later in life. Her efforts to establish the Harlem Community Art Center, where black people had the unprecedented and rare opportunity to study fine arts, were heralded throughout the United States. One of the most exciting programs of its kind in America, the center became a model for other urban centers and a symbol of race pride, as did Savage’s best known work, The Harp, which she produced for the 1939 World’s Fair.

Cast in plaster and painted this ...