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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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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 ...

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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

Makeda Best

photographer. Born in Harlem, New York, in 1919, Roy DeCarava knew by the age of nine that he wanted to be an artist. His creative talent led him to the arts-oriented Textile High School. Initially enrolled at the Harlem annex, DeCarava transferred to the better-equipped main campus located in downtown Manhattan. DeCarava went on to attend college at the Cooper Union School of Art. Though inspired by the opportunities the Cooper Union offered, DeCarava left in 1940 and began attending the Works Progress Administration–sponsored Harlem Community Art Center. DeCarava thrived in Harlem's lively visual arts community, where organizations such as the Harlem Artists Guild, founded by the painter Aaron Douglas in 1935 supported classes and forums He met other African American artists and found himself at the center of discussions about African American creative expression In addition to his studies at the Harlem Art Center DeCarava worked ...

Article

American painter and illustrator. He was a leading artist of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s (see African American art §I 2.). He studied at the University of Nebraska and then in Paris with Charles Despiau and Othon Friesz (1925–31). Douglas was the earliest African American artist consciously to include African imagery in his work, which emphasized the creativity and continuity of African American culture, despite slavery and segregation. He was, however, criticized by his contemporaries for his idealism. In 1934, under the sponsorship of the Public Works of Art project (see United States of America, §XII), he designed a number of murals, including four panels depicting Aspects of Negro Life for the Schomburg Library in Harlem (New York, Pub. Lib.); this work and such others as Judgment Day (1939; USA, priv. col., see exh. cat., no. 99) and Building ...

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Aaron Myers

Aaron Douglas was born in Topeka, Kansas. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, he taught art at Lincoln High School in Topeka from 1923 to 1925. He moved to Harlem, New York in 1925, the year cultural critic and philosopher Alain Leroy Locke launched the New Negro movement. This movement expressed African Americans' new pride in their African heritage, which manifested itself in literature, song, dance, and most significantly for Douglas, art.

Douglas soon made the acquaintance of German American portrait artist Winold Reiss, who illustrated the March 1925 issue of Survey Graphic an issue devoted to the New Negro movement and edited by Locke Both Reiss and Locke encouraged Douglas to develop his own aesthetic from design motifs in African art Douglas followed their suggestions and sought examples of African art which in the 1920s were beginning to be purchased by American museums ...

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Jeannine DeLombard

Douglas, Aaron (26 May 1899–02 February 1979), artist and educator, was born in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Aaron Douglas, Sr., a baker, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown), a domestic. Educated in segregated schools until high school, Douglas’s early artistic influences included his mother’s paintings and drawings and fellow African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Christ and Nikodemus (1899), which young Douglas saw reproduced in a magazine.

Torn between becoming a lawyer and an artist after graduating from Topeka High School Douglas like thousands of other black laborers headed to the urban centers of the North in search of a factory job Unlike most of them however Douglas was intent on saving enough money to attend college in the fall Arriving in Detroit Michigan he worked as a plasterer but finding this work too much for his slight frame he worked for Cadillac loosening molding sand from ...

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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 ...

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A. B. Christa Schwarz

artist. Known as the “father of Black American art,” Aaron Douglas significantly influenced the field of black visual arts and dominated the visual sphere of the Harlem Renaissance, the first African American cultural movement. Douglas was born in Topeka, Kansas, one of several children of the baker Aaron Douglas Sr. from Tennessee and his wife, Elizabeth, a homemaker from Alabama. Douglas developed an interest in art at an early age, graduated from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1922, and took a teaching position at Lincoln High School in Kansas City in 1923, staying until 1925. Desiring to further develop his own craft and inspired by the 1925 Harlem issue of the sociology journal Survey Graphic, Douglas moved to Harlem in 1925.

Interpreting the Harlem Renaissance as an opportunity to replace old stereotypical images of African Americans ...

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

Nicole McFarlane

portrait artist and illustrator, was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in the predominantly black west side of the city. He was the second of three children born to Carl Frank Owens, a bus driver, and Ada Mae Lightfoot Owens. As early as when he was four years old, Owens became well known in his neighborhood for his ubiquitous sketchpad and his ability to make likenesses of his family and playmates. His early formal education included attendance at Sampson Elementary, McMichael Middle School, and Northwestern High School, from which he graduated in 1949.

Although Owens's parents were supportive of his choice to make a career as an artist, they also encouraged him to pursue teaching. In 1952 he earned a bachelor of science degree in art education from Wayne State University That same year Owens landed his first professional job teaching art in the ...

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Cynthia Haveson Veloric

artist and educator, was born Raymond Jennings Saunders and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended Schenley High School and the Carnegie Institute of Technology, where talented high school students could pursue the arts six days a week and exhibit their work in a prestigious venue. Saunders later said,

From a young age I was going to school six days a week and loving it. You were welcomed to do all kinds of things. I had no conception that those opportunities weren't available to everybody. When I got to the outside world, I found a lot of pain. But my teachers told me, ‘If you ever think about stopping making art, come talk to us.’ So that support followed me.

(Chase,)

In 1953 Saunders received a National Scholastic Scholarship His academic achievements and the strong support of his teachers gave him the lifelong desire to teach and inspire young ...

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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 ...