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Michael Bieze

artist, was born in Colquitt County, Georgia, son of John Henry Adams, a former slave and preacher in the Methodist Church, and Mittie Rouse. Many questions surround Adams's early life. While he reported in an Atlanta Constitution article (23 June 1902) that he came from a humble background, his father served parishes throughout Georgia. According to the History of the American Negro and His Institutions (1917), Adams Sr. was a man of accomplishment, leading black Georgians in a colony in Liberia for two years and receiving two honorary doctorates, from Bethany College and Morris Brown University. Educated in Atlanta schools, Adams claimed in the Atlanta Constitution article to have traveled to Philadelphia in the late 1890s to take art classes at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry (later Drexel University). Drexel, established in 1891 opened its doors to a diverse student ...

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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 ...

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Mary Anne Boelcskevy

artist and teacher, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, the youngest of five children of the prominent Episcopalian minister Primus Priss Alston and his second wife, Anna (Miller) Alston. Nicknamed “Spinky” by his father, Charles showed his artistic bent as a child by sculpting animals out of the red clay around his home. His father died suddenly when Charles was just three. In 1913 his mother married a former classmate, Harry Pierce Bearden (uncle of Romare Bearden), and the family moved to New York City. Charles's stepfather worked at the Bretton Hotel as the supervisor of elevator operators and newsstand personnel, and over the years the family lived in comfortable brownstones in better neighborhoods.

Alston attended DeWitt Clinton High School, where he was art editor of the student newspaper the Magpie during the week and he studied at the National Academy of Art on Saturdays He turned ...

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Cristina Ferreira Pinto-Bailey

was born on 14 April 1857 in São Luís, capital of the northern Brazilian province of Maranhão. Born to David Gonçalves de Azevedo, Portugal’s vice consul in Brazil, and Emília Amália Pinto de Magalhães (also Portuguese), Aluísio Tancredo Gonçalves was the younger brother of the famous playwright Artur Azevedo (1855–1908). Azevedo’s parents were not legally married, as his mother had been married beforehand to a Portuguese businessman. It was an arranged marriage that ended when Magalhães left her violent husband, causing social scandal.

Growing up in São Luís, Azevedo developed an early interest in painting and drawing. He moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1876 to study at the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes National Academy of Fine Arts In the capital of the Brazilian Empire he began working as an illustrator and caricaturist for several newspapers As many critics have pointed out Azevedo s craft as ...

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María de Lourdes Ghidoli

who specialized in portraiture. Blanco de Aguirre received artistic training in Florence (Italy) thanks to a grant from the presidential administration of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1868–1874). Although nineteenth-century publications highlighted his work as an oil painter, the three pieces that Blanco de Aguirre is best known for are pencil drawings: Retrato de José Mármol (1871), El negro Falucho (1889), and Heroísmo del negro Falucho (1889). In 1888 Blanco de Aguirre wrote a book (Colección de Artículos Literarios) that authorship offers ample information on Blanco de Aguirre’s childhood and adolescence.

Blanco de Aguirre was born in a rural part of San José Uruguay in the 1850s to a humble family of farmers According to Blanco de Aguirre himself because of his interest in studying and limited access to formal education his family placed him under the tutelage of Colonel Manuel Fernández ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

artist and political activist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1937 Bolden received a four‐year scholarship to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, where he majored in illustration and advertising design. Upon his graduation he became an artist and layout designer for a top advertising agency in Philadelphia. His duties included prep work for original work by Norman Rockwell. In fact Bolden and Rockwell became close friends, and it was Rockwell who “encouraged Bolden to use neighbors and local townspeople as models for his art,” according to a New Hampshire Circle of Friends flyer.

After World War II Mel Bolden moved to New York and became a full‐time illustrator, working first for black newspapers, then for such general magazines as Fortune, Saturday Review, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Boy's Life, as well as for major newspapers like the New York Times and the New York ...

Article

Phoebe Wolfskill

painter, illustrator, and graphic artist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the second oldest of nine children of Herbert and Irene Crichlow, immigrants from Barbados. Using his bricklaying and plastering skills, Crichlow's father made beautiful, patterned ceiling decorations that Ernest recalled as his earliest artistic inspiration. In the 1920s Crichlow won his first artistic commission: a neighborhood preacher paid him and a close friend to paint a black Jesus on a window shade. Not only did this assignment encourage Crichlow to pursue a career in art, it also marked the beginning of his work with black subjects.

Realizing Crichlow's artistic potential, his art teachers at Haaren High School in Brooklyn raised money for a scholarship for him to attend the School of Commercial Illustrating and Advertising Art in Manhattan. In a 1968 interview Crichlow recalled that he left school during the height of the Depression but whether this ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

photographer, artist, and educator, was born in Harlem, New York City, the only child of Andrew DeCarava and Elfreda Ferguson. DeCarava never knew his father; his mother worked as a clerical worker for the Work Projects Administration.

Elfreda DeCarava arrived in New York from Jamaica as the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North was transforming Harlem into a predominantly African American community. She tried to foster her son's creativity as a single mother when he was a boy by getting him a violin and an expensive velvet short suit, in which he said he used to run through Harlem to get to practice. While DeCarava never became a violinist, he became actively interested in and a part of a wide range of artistic endeavors from sketching to movies.

As an eight year old boy he used chalk or pieces of Plaster ...

Article

Amy Helene Kirschke

artist and educator, was born in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Aaron Douglas Sr., a baker from Tennessee, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown), an amateur artist from Alabama. Aaron had several brothers and sisters, but he was unique in his family in his singular drive to pursue higher education. He attended segregated elementary schools and then an integrated high school. Topeka had a strong and progressive black community, and Aaron was fortunate to grow up in a city where education and social uplift were stressed through organizations such as the Black Topeka Foundation. He was an avid reader and immersed himself in the great writers, including Dumas, Shakespeare, and Emerson His parents were able to feed and clothe him but could offer him no other help with higher education When he needed money to pursue a college degree he traveled via rail to Detroit where ...

Article

Frank Martin

artist, writer, illustrator and educator, was born Elton Clay Fax, the son of Mark Oakland and Willie Estele Fax in Baltimore, Maryland. Fax initially matriculated at the historically black institution Claflin University, in Orangeburg, South Carolina, but completed his studies and received a BFA at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, in 1931. On 12 March 1929, Fax married the former Grace Elizabeth Turner, and their union produced three children.

In 1934 Fax painted a well-received mural, commissioned by the Public Works of Art Projects (PWAP) at Baltimore's Dunbar High School, depicting the incorporation of southern, black agrarians into the urban, industrial north. Fax's representation of the Great Migration and a pluralistic American workforce was an ideal example of the American Social-Realist art that was supported by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal projects Social Realism was a popular style in the 1930s ...

Article

Timothy L. Jackson

cartoonist and illustrator, was born Jay Paul Jackson in Oberlin, Ohio. He was the fourth child and only son of Nellie Curry and Franklin R. Jackson. Jay Jackson tried his hand at a variety of trades before discovering his aptitude for cartooning. At the age of thirteen he joined the workforce, pounding railway spikes for a railroad company located just outside of Columbus, Ohio. He then worked as a steelworker in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and had a brief career as a boxer while Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, from 1925 to 1926. During his time at Wesleyan, an instructor redirected his interests toward the field of advertising.

At the age of nineteen, Jackson wed his first wife, Adeline C. Smith (?–1924 and started a successful sign painting business However this success cost him his health Jackson suffered a severe case of lead poisoning caused by ...

Article

Timothy L. Jackson

editorial cartoonist and illustrator, was born Ahmed Samuel Milai in Washington, D.C.

During the 1930s Milai served as illustrator of Joel Augustus Rogers's black history comic titled Your History. Rogers's comic brouge4820ht readers of the black press information about the remarkable achievements of individuals throughout the African diaspora, which was conspicuously absent from elementary school history books across America. The fully illustrated Your History comic was presented in a style similar to that of the popular Ripley's Believe it or Not! feature. Although Milai worked in association with the Pittsburgh Courier, Your History also appeared in a number of other black press publications nationally.

On 31 July 1937 the Pittsburgh Courier debuted Milai's comic domestic family strip titled Bucky This weekly comic strip centered on an adolescent boy and his interaction with his parents schoolmates and the obligatory assortment of tough guys and bullies Over the ...

Article

Sarah Powers

artist, illustrator, and textile designer, was born in the Bronx, New York. Her father was a public school teacher of Latin and Greek from Augusta, Georgia, while her mother was from Roanoke, Virginia. Piper was raised and spent most of her life in New York City. Her interest in painting began when she was in high school. Although she was offered a four-year scholarship to the Pratt Institute, a New York art school, in 1936 she instead enrolled in Hunter College with the intention of becoming a teacher. In 1940 she graduated, receiving a BA in Fine Arts, with a minor in geometry. From 1943 to 1946 she continued her art education at the Art Students League in New York City, where her most influential teachers were painters Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Vaclav Vytlacil.

Piper was awarded a fellowship from the Rosenwald Foundation in 1946 allowing ...

Article

Dorothy B. Porter

Patrick Henry Reason was born in New York City, one of four children of Michel and Elizabeth Melville Reason. He was baptized on April 17, 1816, as Patrice Rison. His father, Michel Rison, was from Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe, and his mother, Elizabeth Melville, was from Santo Domingo (in what is now the Dominican Republic). Patrick's young sister, Policarpe, died in 1818 at age four. His brother Elver (or Elwer) did not attain the prominence that Patrick or his brother Charles Lewis did. All three brothers received their early education at the New York African Free School, established on Mulberry Street by the New York Manumission Society. Patrick Reason's skill as an engraver was recognized at age thirteen when he made an engraving of the African Free School that was printed as a frontispiece of Charles C. Andrews's History of the New York African ...

Article

Theresa Leininger-Miller

printmaker and abolitionist, was born in New York City, the son of Michel Reason of St. Anne, Guadeloupe, and Elizabeth Melville of Saint-Dominique. Reason was baptized as Patrick Rison in the Church of St. Peter on 17 April 1816. While it is not known why the spelling of his name changed, it may have been an homage to the political leader Patrick Henry. While he was still a student at the African Free School in New York, his first engraving was published, the frontispiece to Charles C. Andrews's The History of the New York African Free-Schools (1830). It carried the byline “Engraved from a drawing by P. Reason, aged thirteen years.” Shortly thereafter, Reason became apprenticed to a white printmaker, Stephen Henry Gimber and then maintained his own studio at 148 Church Street in New York where he offered a wide variety of engraving ...

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Theresa Leininger-Miller

painter, printmaker, and jazz musician, was born in New York City, the only child of immigrants from Bermuda Albert Renforth Smith, lifelong chauffeur to newspaper publisher Ralph Pulitzer, and Elizabeth A. Smith, a homemaker. After graduating from Public School No. 70 in 1911, Smith attended the DeWitt Clinton High School for two years. He began studying art under Irene Weir in 1913 and was the first African American to receive a Wolfe scholarship at the Ethical Culture Art High School. In 1915 Smith became the first African American student at the National Academy of Design, where he studied painting under Douglas Volk, etching with William Auerbach-Levy, and mural painting with Kenyon Cox. There he won honorable mention and the Suydam Bronze Medal in his first- and second-year classes (1915, 1916 two prizes from the academy poster competition and ...

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 ...

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Lisa E. Rivo

painter, was born in Mayfield, Kentucky, one of seven children of Frank Wilson, a second-generation barber, and Minnie Wilson, a founding member of the local Second Christian Church. Frank Wilson was an amateur artist, and two of his paintings proudly hung in the Wilson home. Ellis later credited his parents with encouraging his educational and artistic pursuits. The Wilsons lived in The Bottom, the largest of several African American sections of Mayfield, a small town in the heart of western Kentucky's tobacco-growing region. After graduation from the Mayfield Colored Grade School, Ellis studied for two years at the Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute (later Kentucky State University), an all-black school in Frankfort. In 1919 he transferred to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he won several student prizes and studied with the school's first African American instructor, William McKnight Farrow among others Following ...