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C. Doreski

Born into urban poverty in Baltimore, Maryland, on 22 December 1935, Samuel James Cornish was the youngest of the two sons of Herman and Sarah Cornish. From his older brother Herman he learned early the lessons of the street, which he later would incorporate into a street-tough observancy in his poetry.

Cornish served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps (1958–1960), then returned to Baltimore, where he published two poetry collections—In This Corner: Sam Cornish and Verses (1961) and People Beneath the Window (1964). While working at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, he became part of Baltimore's political and literary underground, self-publishing a sixteen-page pamphlet entitled Generations and Other Poems (1964). A subsequent edition of Generations (1966) appeared when Cornish was editing Chicory a literary magazine by children and young adults in the Community Action Target Area ...

Article

African American painter and sculptor. Born in Harlem, Jones studied art at the City College of New York beginning in 1950. By 1955 she had completed her degree in Fine Arts and Education, and had two daughters, Michele Faith Wallace and Barbara Faith Wallace. From 1955 to1973 Ringgold taught in the New York City public schools. She spent many summers in Provincetown, MA, painting landscapes. In 1959 she completed a Masters degree in fine arts at City College of New York. Two years later Ringgold made her first trip to Europe, where she visited museums in Paris, Florence, and Rome. In 1962 she married Burdette Ringgold and began using his name professionally. Her first political paintings, including The American People series (1963–7), were inspired by the writings of James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka (then Leroi Jones) and included the powerful imagery of The Flag Is Bleeding ...

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

Painter and sculptor Faith Ringgold has spent her artistic career breaking boundaries and opening opportunities for African American creativity, especially that of women. Born in New York City and raised in Harlem, Ringgold earned a bachelor's degree in art and education in 1955 and a master's of fine arts degree in 1959 from The City College of New York. Dissatisfied with the traditional art training she received in New York and later in Europe, Ringgold studied African art, reading the work of Black Arts Movement authors and participating in the Civil Rights Movement. Paintings from this period—including The Flag Is Bleeding (1967), US Postage Stamp Commemorating the Advent of Black Power (1967) and Die (1967)—blend the geometric shapes and flat perspective of African-inspired artistic traditions with powerful political and social protest.

Ringgold has been an outspoken critic of racial and gender prejudice ...

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

Kim Jenice Dillon

Known for his books for children, John Shearer was born and raised in New York City and attended Rochester Institute of Technology and School of Visual Arts. In 1970, he became staff photographer for Look and Life, and contributed photographs to other national magazines, including Popular Photography and Infinity.

Shearer entered the field of children's and young adult literature with I Wish I Had an Afro (1970), a nonfiction essay exploring the challenges of rearing an African American boy in poverty. Shearer's black-and-white photographs contribute to the intense depiction of an urban family's struggle against ignorance, gangs, and drugs. Shearer's talent for illustrating narratives of childhood experience is seen also in Little Man in the Family (1972 a double photographic essay exploring the lives of two boys from differing racial and class backgrounds Louis Berrios is Puerto Rican and lives in a New ...

Article

Wangari wa Nyatetũ-Waigwa

Ivorian writer, painter, illustrator, and academic, was born in Paris, France, in 1955 to a French mother and an Ivorian father. She grew up in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, and studied literature at the National University of Abidjan, earning a BA in English. She read a great deal of French poetry, including much by the poets of Négritude, whose “political commitment and lyricism” she found compelling. Tadjo acknowledges that these early readings exercised a profound influence on her own writing, and she tries “to retain this element of political commitment,” while not losing sight of the literary dimension. Her own approach lays emphasis on a “sense of responsibility,” thereby placing her among the new African writers who steer away from the culture of victimization and blame.

Discovering that the Négritude writers had been greatly influenced by the Harlem Renaissance she developed an interest in that movement subsequently ...