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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 ...

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Amy J. Buono

Born around 1780 in Rio de Janeiro, Amaral was best known as an artist employed by the Luso-Brazilian Court in Rio. Details of Amaral’s early life and training are scant, including his parentage, but he lived and worked in Rio, where he studied under the artist José Leandro de Carvalho (c. 1770–1834). Amaral continued his studies at the officially sanctioned course of painting and drawing in Rio created by the Marquis of Aguiar (Fernando José de Portugal e Castro, viceroy between 1801 and 1806 The school was administered by the painter Manuel da Costa de Oliveira with whom Amaral studied stage design He also worked as the assistant of José Leandro at the São João Theater Amaral s talents were quickly recognized and he was summoned to do decorative work for the court leaving the theater behind Amaral s oeuvre is especially noteworthy in that it bridged the ...

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Cynthia Hawkins

ceramist, sculptor, filmmaker, and cofounder (with her husband, James Hatch) of the Hatch‐Billops Collection, an archive of African American cultural history, was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lucius Billops, a cook and merchant seaman, and Alma Gilmore, a dressmaker, maid, and aircraft assembly worker. Billops graduated from Catholic Girls High School in 1952, and in 1954 she began her studies at the University of Southern California. She majored in occupational therapy, which included drawing, sculpture, and ceramics. She transferred to Los Angeles State College in 1956 after she became pregnant, and then she changed her major to special education. Billops worked during the day as a bank bookkeeper and maintained a full academic workload in the evening. At the end of 1956 her daughter, Christa, was born, and Billops put her up for adoption. This was an experience she would explore in her 1992 ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

a still photographer and documentary filmmaker, was born in Houston, Texas, the second child and only daughter of the schoolteacher Mollie Carroll Parrott and the dentist Frederick Douglas Parrott Sr. At least one grandparent had been born a slave. Both parents were the first in their respective families to obtain advanced college degrees, but racism kept the family poor. The Parrotts lived in the Third Ward, one of Houston's African American neighborhoods, and Blue attended a segregated grade school. As she wrote in her memoir, The Dawn at My Back, the challenges of growing up poor and black in a racist, classist society put a shadow over her life.

Blue did not intend to pursue a career in the visual arts. She enrolled as an English literature student, specializing in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English Renaissance period, at Boston University in 1960 with the goal of becoming ...

Article

Guillermo Anderson

was born Delvin R. Cayetano to George and Victoria Cayetano in 1954, in Dangriga, Stann Creek District, Belize. He attended Holy Ghost School in Dangriga from 1960 to 1969. Cayetano spent his childhood in his hometown and began painting and playing music at an early age.

A self-taught musician, Cayetano is credited with the creation of punta rock, a modern version of punta, a rhythm and dance of the Garifuna tradition played with drums, originally at funeral rites. Traditional punta is played with two drums, maracas, and a turtle shell. According to Cayetano, the idea came to him in 1978 at the end of an annual tribute to Thomas Vincent Ramos, a Garifuna cultural leader of Belize, when the youth attending a Garifuna ceremony started playing traditional punta with vulgar lyrics, displacing the elder musicians, who picked up their drums and left.

Concerned that new generations of Garifuna ...

Article

Thomas George Caracas Garcia

was born in Salvador, Bahia, on 30 April 1914. His paternal great-grandfather (whose name was spelled “Caimmi”) immigrated to Brazil from Italy and was a construction worker. His father, Durval Henrique Caymmi, was a civil servant and amateur musician, and his mother, Aurelina, was an amateur singer of African and Portuguese descent. Dorival never had any formal training as a singer, and in his teens he had a variety of jobs, most notably as a street vendor. His musical career, however, took off while he was still a teenager. He was a self-taught guitarist, singer, and composer, and by the early 1930s, he was performing his own songs on the nascent radio stations in his hometown.

By 1935 Caymmi was singing and playing guitar on Rádio Clube de Bahia (Bahia Radio Club, a major broadcaster in Salvador) and in 1935, he had his own show, Caymmi e Suas ...

Article

Ingrid Schorr

curator, fashion designer, dancer, and artist, was born James Watson in rural Woodruff, South Carolina, to sharecropper parents whose names are unknown. Little information about his early years is available except that he attended the Fashion Institute of New York and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris before moving to New York in the 1960s.

As Chanticleer established himself as a fashion designer in New York City he also began to propagate the biographical embellishments and falsehoods that would be repeated until his death: that he was born in Harlem to a Barbadian concert pianist and a Haitian high school principal; that he completed a master's degree at the Sorbonne; that as a five-year-old he designed a prize-winning folding chair for a competition at the 1940 World's Fair.

Whether or not he grew up in Harlem Chanticleer identified so strongly with its place at the center of black history and ...

Article

Therese Duzinkiewicz Baker

prima ballerina, modern dancer, choreographer, teacher, and painter, was born Janet Fay Collins in New Orleans, the daughter of Ernest Lee Collins, a tailor, and Alma de Lavallade (the noted dancer Carmen de Lavallade was a first cousin on this side of the family), a seamstress. At the age of four Collins moved to Los Angeles with her family, which included three sisters and one brother. In Los Angeles, Collins had trouble being accepted into “whites-only” dance studios, so she worked with private tutors. Her first formal ballet lessons were at a Catholic community center at the age of ten.

When she was fifteen Collins auditioned for the prestigious Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo led by the legendary Leonide Massine Collins was accepted but only on the condition that she stay in the corps de ballet and that she paint her face white to blend in with the other ...

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 ...

Article

LeGrace Benson

was born on 9 December 1935 in Port au Prince Haiti to Antonine Garoute Reared by his mother he became close to his mother s twin brother Colonel Hamilton Garoute a poet and army officer From about his tenth year Garoute accompanied his uncle on trips to oversee many different locales in Haiti during which he came in contact with a wide range of the population beyond the cities and had his first encounter with clays and the potting process He came early to understand clay as an inspirited substance from the earth capable of full artistic spiritual expression His uncle s poetic vision the opportunity to be in close touch with the diversity of people and experience with clay and potters would strongly shape Garoute s future He attended schools in Port au Prince and at age 12 enrolled in a class led by Luce Turnier at the ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Dylon L. Robbins

frequently referred to as Nicolasito, was born in Camagüey, Cuba, into a family of intellectuals, artists, and prominent community members. His father was an attorney and his mother a homemaker and interior designer. His uncle was the prolific and renowned poet Nicolás Guillén. Together with Sara Gómez and Sergio Giral, Guillén Landrián was one of the few Afro-Cuban filmmakers during the early years of the Revolution.

Guillén Landrián s interest in visual art began very early through the encouragement of his mother He also exhibited an early interest in documentary filmmaking attempting a short film as a teenager In Havana in his twenties Guillén Landrián initially studied to be a diplomat before starting to work as a production assistant at the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry ICAIC There he would study with the filmmakers Joris Ivens and Theodor Christensen who were working and teaching in Cuba along with ...

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

Cynthia Haveson Veloric

artist and educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Ruby Arlene Powell, a homemaker, and Barkley H. Hendricks, a carpenter who worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Barkley L. Hendricks “didn't like school” (unpublished interview, 2005), preferring to sketch and draw in his spare time, but once he entered high school, his teachers encouraged his art studies. Another outlet for his talent was the high school yearbook, for which he was both editor and illustrator. Outside school he created chalk and pastel markings on city walls, which he later called “pre-aerosol graffiti” (unpublished interview, 2005).

After graduating from Simon Gratz High School in 1963, Hendricks enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the oldest art school in the country. At the time, there were few black students or faculty. He can easily recall fellow students Lou Sloan and Raymond Saunders ...

Article

Pamela Lee Gray

dancer, painter, choreographer, actor, author, photographer, director, musician, and costume and set designer, was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He was one of four children of middle-class parents of Irish, French, and African descent.

Holder was educated at Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain. His grandfather, Louis Ephraim, was a French painter whose influence led both Holder and his older brother Boscoe to begin experimenting with oils Geoffrey began teaching himself to paint at age fifteen when he was forced to stay home from school due to a prolonged illness He also learned much from Boscoe who was a pianist painter and dancer When Boscoe moved to England Geoffrey took over as director of his brother s dance company while continuing to create new paintings and display work at gallery exhibitions Holder s work was displayed at ...

Article

Kathy-ann Daniel-Gittens

was born on 1 August 1930 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He was one of five children of Arthur Holder, a salesman originally from Barbados, and Lucy de Frense, from the French Caribbean island of Martinique. Holder’s family lived in a middle-class neighborhood in Port of Spain, the capital of the island. He attended the nearby Tranquility Intermediate School and then Queen’s Royal College (1935–1945). Holder did not take well to the restrictions of the colonial classroom, and he left school prematurely to do clerical work for the government.

From early in life Geoffrey Holder was heavily influenced by the artistic inclinations of his older brother Boscoe Holder When their father bought a piano Boscoe quickly taught himself and then Geoffrey how to play it In addition to following in his brother s footsteps in music Geoffrey also pursued Boscoe s interest in painting and dance In the ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Elena Bertoncini Zúbková

Swahili poet, scribe, calligrapher, woodcarver, performer, tailor, musician, and dance master, was born in Lamu on the northern coast of Kenya. Nicknamed Kijum(w)a, “little slave,” by his mother at his birth (hoping this nickname would be auspicious), his full name was Muhammad bin Abubekr bin Omar Kijumwa (also Muhamadi bin Abu Bakari, Mohamed Abubakar Kijumwa, and other possible transliterations from the Arabic script). He studied at the qurʾanic school, made the pilgrimage to Mecca three times, and became a renowned and versatile artist, who handed to his son Helewa the craft of carving the beautifully ornamented doors in Lamu. Among other skills, he made musical instruments and was a famous player of the kibangala a seven stringed lute He passed most of his life in Lamu but in the 1890s he worked as a scribe in the small protectorate of Witu inland from the Kenyan coast which was part ...

Article

J. Vern Cromartie

visual artist, musician, author, and political activist, was born Joan Angela Lewis in Oakland, California, to John Henry Lewis and Florence (Reid) Lewis. She is also known as J. Tarika Lewis, Tarika Lewis, Joan Lewis, and Matilaba. At the time of her birth, her father was a salesman for G&W Refrigeration. He was the first black man to become the light heavyweight champion of the world, a title he held from 1935 to 1939. After retiring as a prize fighter, John Henry Lewis and his father Edward Lewis operated a boxing gym in Oakland.

While attending Oakland Technical High School Lewis was active in the journalism music and athletic programs She wrote for the school newspaper and played violin in the school orchestra Lewis was also a member of the swim team and a sprinter on the track team From the 10th to ...

Article

Livia Apa

Angolan photographer, documentarist, and filmmaker, was born on 30 July 1976 in Benguela, Angola. When he was eight years old, his family moved to Portugal. Although Liberdade stayed in Portugal, he often visited Angola for professional reasons. He graduated with a degree in cultural marketing from the Universidade Lusófona of Lisbon, and also attended some courses for a master’s degree in African studies in the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE) in Lisbon. Liberdade attended a course of cine-video in the Instituto Superior de Artes Design, Marketing e Publicidade (IADE) of the Portuguese capital. At the age of twenty, he produced his first documentary, O Rap è Uma Arma 1996 which follows rappers living in the suburbs of Lisbon These suburban spaces usually known for their violence are presented in Liberdade s film as places of extreme cultural vitality He won the prize for best ...