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Joseph S. Mella

painter, graphic artist, printmaker, and publisher, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Ned Adams, an electrician and occasional sign painter, and Laura. Adams first explored art making by mimicking his father, who, according to Adams, enjoyed drawing. After the divorce of his parents around 1944, Adams lived with his aunt and uncle, Claudia and Caleb Spivey. Although he sought to attend a program for gifted children at the Detroit Institute of Arts, his uncle vehemently prohibited it, preferring that Adams spend his free time working jobs such as delivering newspapers. Adams attended Northwestern High School in Detroit while continuing to live with the Spiveys until age fifteen, when he moved to his father's home.

After graduating from high school in 1951 Adams moved to Romeo Michigan a then rural town forty one miles north of Detroit There Adams worked at ...

Article

Susan B. Iwanisziw

commercial painter, artist, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only known child of Jeremiah Bowser from Maryland and Rachel Bustill, daughter of the prosperous black abolitionist and educator Cyrus Bustill. The intermarriage among the region's free black Quaker families headed by Cyrus Bustill, Robert Douglass Sr., Jeremiah Bowser, and David Mapps created a dynamic force that benefited all African Americans and particularly spurred David s personal growth and accomplishments Jeremiah a member of the Benezet Philosophical Society served as a steward on the Liverpool lines and later it seems he was the proprietor of an oyster house near the intersection of 4th and Cherry Streets where David Bowser first hung up his sign as a commercial painter Later the Bowser family moved to the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia into a house at 481 North 4th Street where Bowser remained for the ...

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Amalia K. Amaki

painter, graphic artist, and archivist, was born William Richard Hutson in San Marcos, Texas, to Mattie Lee (Edwards) Hudson, a homemaker and employee at Texas State University, and Floyd Waymon Hudson, a laborer, bandleader, and pianist. He grew up with three siblings, Floyd Waymon Jr., Ellen Ruth, and Clarence Albert. When his father died in 1942 his family moved in with his grandmother. In 1949 he entered San Marcos Colored High School. With no art classes at school or in the segregated community, he took a drawing correspondence course in 1951 from Art Instruction, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, working odd jobs to cover costs. His mother died in 1952 at thirty-nine following a long illness, and Hutson moved to San Antonio with his siblings to live with aunts Jewel Littlejohn and Milber Jones in the East Terrace Housing Project, his uncle Wilbur ...

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Lisa D. Freiman

artist and educator, was born Betye Irene Brown in Pasadena, California, to Beatrice (maiden name unknown), a seamstress who enjoyed quilting, and Jefferson Brown, a salesman who liked to sketch and write. Jefferson Brown died from kidney problems when Saar was six years old, and Betye and her brother and sister lived with her mother's great-aunt and great-uncle until her mother remarried a man named Emmett six years later. After the second marriage, Beatrice had two more children, a boy and a girl. Saar spent summers with her grandmother in Watts, where she saw Simon Rodia'sWatts Towers, a vernacular example of assemblage consisting of eight tall conical spirals. Built from steel rods, covered in concrete, and encrusted with found objects like bottle caps, glass, broken tiles, and shells, the Watts Towers seemed like “fairy-tale castles” (Isenberg, State of the Arts 23 to Saar and ...

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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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

artist and educator, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the oldest of three children of Frederick W. Wells, a Baptist minister, and Hortensia Ruth (Lesesne) Wells, a kindergarten teacher. The couple met while both were students at Wilberforce College in Ohio. When James was one year old, the family moved to the working-class town of Palatka, Florida, where Frederick Wells became pastor of the Mount Tabor Baptist Church. After Reverend Wells died, around 1912, Hortensia Wells opened a day-care center and a five-and-dime store, and James helped support his mother and two siblings by doing odd jobs. Wells's artistic skills were encouraged by his mother, and in 1914 he received a scholarship to the Florida Normal and Industrial Institute a segregated Baptist high school in Jacksonville As a teenager he won several awards for drawing and woodworking at the Florida State Fair Wells deferred admission to Lincoln University ...