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Myrna Guerrero Villalona

was born in the San Carlos neighborhood of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, on 16 June 1930, at the beginning of the dictatorship of Rafael L. Trujillo (1930–1961), and three months before the San Zenón hurricane flattened the city (3 September 1930).

Her parents were Porfirio Balcácer and Tomasina Rodríguez a couple with scarce financial resources who valued education as a way out of poverty In addition to Ada they had a son Porfirio Lorenzo Ada grew up between her parents home on Ravelo Street in San Carlos and the home of her maternal grandmother in San Juan de la Maguana The city located about 118 miles from Santo Domingo afforded Ada direct contact with myths and legends from the cultural reservoir of her country s heritage Her grandfather Catedral de los Santos was the overseer on a farm and a devotee ...

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Nicholas J. Bridger

Yoruba wood sculptor, was born in 1910 in Osi-Ilorin, now in Kwara State, Nigeria. He was the son of Areogun of Osi-Ilorin (c. 1880–1954), a significant master woodcarver of the premodern tradition of the northeast area of Yorubaland. He acquired the name George when baptized Catholic as a child, although his father remained a practitioner of the local Yoruba religion. His name is referred to in recent sources as George Bamidele Arowoogun, the patronymic added as a surname. His close collaborator and patron for four decades, Father Kevin Carroll (1920–1993), always referred to him simply as “Bandele.”

Growing up in a successful carver s household Bandele became apprenticed in his teens to one of his father s former assistants Oshamuko also from Osi Ilorin one of a group of villages called collectively Opin which was within the Ekiti region Both his familial ancestry and his artistic lineage ...

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Norma Rodney Harrack

one of the eminent figures of twentieth-century pottery, is widely recognized as the father of modern pottery in Jamaica.

Historically, the Taino, Jamaica’s earliest inhabitants, settled on the island about 600 bce and used clay to make everyday household utensils. The influx of imports and arriving European artisans and enslaved Africans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries into the island proved fertile for the development of a local pottery industry. African slaves brought their ceramic traditions, and today, the influence of their pottery-making styles still persists across the island. The coexistence of different pottery traditions gave rise to a Jamaican syncretic pottery, and Cecil Baugh would later play a crucial pioneering role in creating an identity for Jamaican potters.

Born on 22 November 1908 in Bangor Ridge Portland Jamaica to farmers Isaac and Emma Baugh Cecil was the youngest of four children He attended elementary school in Bangor Ridge ...

Article

LeGrace Benson

was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1946 to parents whose given names are not definitively known His carpenter father died when he was 5 years old leaving Bazile and five siblings in the care of their widowed mother Reared as a devout Catholic Bazile remained so throughout his life attending church each Sunday until his final days Bazile lived most of his life on Rue des Césars in Port au Prince where he arrived with his mother and siblings at a time when the neighborhood was becoming densely populated Many people migrating from the countryside into the city in search of work during this time were Vodou practitioners who were also baptized as Catholics Bazile went to the local Catholic school with the intention of becoming an accountant He excelled in mathematics and geometry skills that he would put to use a few years later as an artist He ...

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LeGrace Benson

was born in the Bel Air district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a center of Vodou spiritual activity where a number of artists created sequined ritual flags and bottles essential to Vodou ceremonies. He grew up in the lakou (extended family) of the oungan (Vodou priest) Ceus “Tibout” St. Louis, leader and primary teacher of sequin artists. Spiritually precocious, Cédor became an oungan while still in his teens, and set up his own Vodou ounfò (temple) close to that of his mentor, Tibout. He continued to serve Tibout’s ounfò as manager and director, and was leader of a noted Rara band, a traditional Haitian musical genre. He married Marquis St. Louis, Tibout’s daughter, who was also skilled in the delicate stitching required to make the ritual objects.

By the time of Cédor s childhood and youth the Bel Air district once a semirural section of the rapidly expanding capital of Haiti was ...

Article

María Auxiliadora González Malabet

was born on 30 August 1926 in Quibdó in the department of Chocó Colombia Nicknamed the black DaVinci and El Brujo an alias roughly translated as a man who knows a lot Mosquera was one of the most well rounded artists of Quibdó and Colombia He was the son of Solomon Córdoba Valencia and Clara Mosquera Clara was a housewife who sold fruit and fish and also performed as a street singer Alfonso s interest in music and sculpture however came from his father who was a domestic carpenter who also transported passengers across the river and entertained them by singings to them or telling them jokes Alfonso inherited not only an interest in singing and composing but also in the art form of carving wood and clay As a child he was first inspired to carve statues out of clay after he saw images of saints at the ...

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Nicholas J. Bridger

Yoruba wood sculptor, was born in 1924 in Ila-Orangun, now in Osun State, Nigeria. He was the fifth-generation son of a noted traditional wood carver, Akobi Ogun Fakeye. The elder Fakeye had also worked as a babalawo, a traditional Ifa diviner-priest. He acquired the name Lamidi, an abbreviated form of Abdul Hameed, when he converted to Islam as a teenager. Tellingly, his given name, Olonade, translates as “the carver has arrived.” His specific birth year is given by Father Kevin Carroll as “about 1925,” although his immediate family preferred the year 1924.

By 1945 both his parents had died leaving him without direct parental support although they had secured his early education in the local colonial schools he later completed high school on his own Not having had a carving apprenticeship as a youth Lamidi was later forced to teach himself the rudiments of wood sculpture ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Lois Mailou Jones was born in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of four, she began to copy paintings in the homes of wealthy white people for whom her mother, a beautician and hat maker, worked. Her formal education began in her high school years, when she attended vocational drawing classes in the evenings and on weekends at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She then studied textile design at the Boston Designers Art School before beginning a four-year program in School of the Museum of Fine Arts, from which she was graduated in 1927 with honors in design.

Because she was black, Jones was denied a graduate assistantship and explored what appeared to be her only other option, teaching art at a black school. In 1928 she established an art department at Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia North Carolina At that time art departments at southern black schools ...

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Tritobia Hayes Benjamin

An active and acclaimed painter for more than six decades, Lois Mailou Jones enjoyed two impressive careers, one as a professor of art and the other as an artist. Her teaching gave her financial security and served as an inspiration and a challenge.

Lois Jones was born in Boston to Caroline Dorinda Adams and Thomas Vreeland Jones. Her father was superintendent of a large office building and attended night classes at Suffolk Law School, where he received his law degree in 1915 at the age of forty. “I think that much of my drive surely comes from my father,” Jones once said, “wanting to be someone, having an ambition.” Her mother was a beautician and Jones’s first mentor. She filled the Jones home with color and freshly cut flowers, instilling in her daughter a love of beauty.

With the assistance of four annual tuition scholarships Jones earned a diploma ...

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Amy Helene Kirschke

painter. The African American painter and art educator Lois Mailou Jones became interested in depicting the African heritage during the Harlem Renaissance, when she was greatly influenced by the painter Aaron Douglas. Jones's artistic career spanned more than seventy years, during which time she furthered the cause of African American visual art and addressed issues of prejudice toward both African Americans and women.

Jones was strongly encouraged by her parents to pursue her talents in the visual arts. She grew up in Boston, graduated from the High School of Practical Arts, and then studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where she won four successive scholarships and received a diploma in design in 1927 She spent a summer studying art at Harvard University and then took a position to create an art program at the Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina a college ...

Article

Elizabeth Way

fashion designer, was born in Clayton, Alabama, to Jack Lowe and Janey Cole Lowe. Little is known of Jack Lowe, however Janey Lowe and her mother, Georgia Cole, were talented dressmakers. The family moved to Montgomery, Alabama, when Ann was a young child, and her mother and grandmother ran a successful business, designing gowns for the wealthy white women of the city. They taught Ann their skills, and by the age of five she could recreate flowers from the garden with their fabric scraps. Though many women could sew in the early twentieth century, Lowe learned advanced dressmaking techniques that equipped her to create couture-quality gowns, as well as to own and operate her own business, a rare achievement for a black woman at the time.

In December 1914 Janey Lowe died leaving the sixteen year old Ann to finish four gowns ordered by the first lady of ...

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Diana Wylie

South African artist and activist, was born Thamsanqa Harry Mnyele on 10 December 1948, in a house owned by his maternal grandparents on Sixth Avenue, Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. He was the second child of David Freddy Harry “Khotso” Mnyele and Sarah Mamanyena, née Thamane. His father was then working as a clerk but, after studying at Wilberforce Institute, Evaton, became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the early 1950s. His parents divorced in 1952. His mother, working as a domestic servant in the white suburbs of Johannesburg, sent her children in 1956 to live with relatives in Makapanstad, a village northwest of Pretoria. There, Mnyele attended Thipe and Mmamudu schools and Nchaupe II Memorial College. He left Nchaupe before taking his matriculation exam. In 1973 he studied art for nine months at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Art and Craft Centre at Rorke s ...

Article

Joyce Youmans

Kenyan ceramist, was born in Nairobi, Kenya, on 5 May 1950, of the Abanyala people, a subgroup of the Abaluyia. She received her early education in Nairobi and New Delhi, India, where her father worked as a journalist in the 1950s. His passion for jazz spurred Odundo’s interest in art from an early age. Multiple prizes won at local poster competitions during high school encouraged her to pursue commercial art.

After graduating from high school in 1968, Odundo worked as a graphic designer for almost three years while taking evening classes in commercial art at the Nairobi Polytechnic. She moved to Cambridge, England, in 1971 to attend the Cambridgeshire College of Art and Technology now Anglia Ruskin University There she took a range of foundation courses including ceramics but graphic design remained her primary focus She soon grew restless however and reconsidered whether she wanted to go ...

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Jeremy Rich

Ghanaian artist, was born on 13 June 1922 in the Ghanaian town of Wenchi located in the Brong Ahafo Region Her father Emmanuel Victor Asihene was a moderator in the Presbyterian church in her home town Her mother was Dora Asihene In her youth Okoh studied at Presbyterian mission schools She drew attention for both her artistic ability and her excellent play in field hockey Some even dubbed her The Joan of Arc of Ghana Hockey for both her skill and her determination to promote the sport later in life Okoh attended and graduated from Achimota College the first government run university in Ghana At the university she became known for her painting and her collages which she continued to produce through the early twenty first century She then worked as a schoolteacher in and around the eastern Ghanaian town of Kukurantumi and became known to locals as Teacher ...

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Kim Marie Vaz

Nigerian textile artist and painter, was born on 23 May 1951 in Ogidi-Ijumu, Kogi State, Nigeria. Known as Nike, she worked in the traditional medium of adire, a textile art form created by the Yoruba women of Nigeria. These skills were considered part of the gender-specific knowledge women needed to perform their domestic responsibilities. The adire technique consists of a resist dye process to produce designs of light and dark blue using indigo. Indigo, a plant-based dye, is made by pounding and fermenting the young leaves of plants belonging to the genus Indigofera. In past times, women would use a chicken feather to paint the patterns on white cotton cloth. Nike perfected the traditional adire (a hand-woven aso-oke Yoruba textile form and has expanded her art to batiks and paintings on canvas and hardboard Her themes are the history traditions and cosmology of the Yoruba people She ...

Article

Lonnie Graham

artist. Born Betye Irene Brown in Los Angeles, California, Betye Saar is a renowned assemblage artist and the mother of three daughters—Lezley, Alison, and Tracye Saar—two of whom, Lezley and Alison, are also well-known artists.

Betye Saar earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1949. She did graduate work at California State University at Long Beach from 1958 to 1962. Later in 1962 she returned to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California to specialize in printmaking; she also continued her studies at California State University at Northridge that year. In 1970 she entered the Pasadena School of Fine Arts to study film.

While residing in Pasadena during the 1950s Betye Brown took a turn from her professional life as a social worker and became active in her early artistic career as ...

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Earnestine Jenkins

Betye Saar’s multidimensional work destroys the distinctions between the traditional art forms of painting, sculpture, and printmaking. She has participated in group and solo exhibitions throughout the country, and her work is in major collections in museums across the United States.

Betye Saar was born in Los Angeles. As a child she often visited her relatives in nearby Watts, where she actually observed the construction of Watts Towers (1921-1954) by the self-taught artist Simon Rodia. Saar credits the memory of the construction of the towering spirals (from bottle caps, glass, tiles, cement, and steel) with her lifelong interest in putting together or assembling creative works using different art techniques, and from castoff, found materials. Saar graduated with a degree in design from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1949 and pursued graduate work at California State University Long Beach in art education and printmaking ...

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Robert Fay

Born Betye Brown in Los Angeles, California, Betye Saar (pronounced Say-er) is the daughter of Jefferson and Beatrice Brown. She married artist Richard Saar shortly after earning a B.A. degree in design from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1949. Saar pursued graduate studies at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Southern California, and California State University at Northridge. She has taught at UCLA and at the Parsons-Otis Institute.

Although Saar began as a printmaker and graphic designer, she later made a transition to three-dimensional work. The work that marked this turning point was Black Girl's Window (1969 in which Saar placed a print of an African American girl into a segmented window frame with existing objects She gradually replaced prints in her assemblages with existing objects She has increased the scale of her work to include room sized ...

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Kathleen Sheldon

Mozambican ceramicist and sculptor, was born in rural Cabo Delgado possibly in the 1930s, although her identity documents carry the 1945 birth date. She learned how to make pottery as a child, as pottery and working with clay were crafts that were usually done by women, though they primarily made pots for cooking and storage rather than artistic images. She married and had three children with her first husband. After her husband left her, she joined the liberation struggle, working to end Portuguese colonial rule over Mozambique. There she met her second husband, with whom she had five more children. As a FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique, Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) member she carried weapons and ammunition for the militants. Six of her children died during the war, leaving only the youngest, and her husband left her at independence in 1975 Soon after those events ...