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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
American painter . Bannister grew up in St Andrews, a small seaport in New Brunswick, Canada. His interest in art was encouraged by his mother, and he made his earliest studies, in drawing and watercolour, at the age of ten. After working as a cook on vessels on the Eastern seaboard, he moved in 1848 with his brother to Boston, where he set up as a barber serving the black community. During the 1850s and 1860s he learned the technique of solar photography, a process of enlarging photographic images that were developed outdoors in daylight, which he continued to practise while working in Boston and New York. Documented paintings from this time include religious scenes, seascapes and genre subjects, for example the noted Newspaper Boy (1869; Washington, DC, N. Mus. Amer. A.), a rare study of urban black experience.
In 1870 Bannister and his wife moved to ...
Betty Kaplan Gubert
Edward Mitchell Bannister was the first of two sons born to Edward and Hannah Alexander Bannister. His father was from Barbados; his mother, who was probably of Scottish descent, was a native of St. Andrews, New Brunswick, and fostered her older son's love of drawing. His father died when Bannister was six; his mother died in 1844. The two boys were sent to live with a wealthy white lawyer, Harris Hatch, and his family. They worked on the Hatches' farm but had access to the Hatches' library, which was filled with books and with paintings that Bannister copied incessantly.
Following the path of many young men who lived in coastal communities, Bannister went to sea, working on fishing boats and schooners. He settled in Boston in 1848 laboring at menial jobs before he learned the skilled trades of barbering and women s hair styling He ...
Pamela M. Fletcher
painter, was born in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada, the son of Hannah Alexander, a native of New Brunswick, and Edward Bannister, from Barbados. While his birth date has generally been given as 1828, recent research has suggested that he was born several years earlier. After the death of his father in 1832, Edward was raised by his mother, whom he later credited with encouraging his artistic aspirations: “The love of art in some form came to me from my mother. … She it was who encouraged and fostered my childhood propensities for drawing and coloring” (Holland, Edward Mitchell Bannister, 17). His mother died in 1844 and Edward and his younger brother William were sent to work for a wealthy local family where he was exposed to classical literature music and painting Edward s interest in art continued and an early biography of the ...
Hasaan A. Kirkland
football player and painter, was born Ernest Eugene Barnes Jr. in Durham, North Carolina, the son of Ernest Barnes Sr., a tobacco worker, and Fannie Mae Geer, who worked for a local legal official. On occasion Barnes talked with Mr. Fuller, his mother's employer, and from him learned about culture, art, and classical music.
Before the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 it was uncommon for African Americans in North Carolina to have access to museums or other sources of information about ancient or world cultures Segregation and racial inequalities in schools and other public institutions deprived most back children of avenues for artistic pursuits Despite such constraints Barnes s mother exposed her son to as much culture and art as she could he studied dance and horn and percussion instruments as well as the visual arts By the time ...
artist and educator, later known as John “Anansa” Thomas Biggers, was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, to Cora Biggers, a homemaker who excelled in sewing and quiltmaking, and Paul Biggers, an educator, preacher, carpenter, and farmer. The youngest of seven children, John learned to appreciate the creativity, industry, and struggle of African American families in the example of his parents. When his father died in 1937, John was only thirteen. Cora Biggers took a job as a matron in an orphanage for black children and sent John and his brother Joe to Lincoln Academy, a boarding school that prepared black students to be teachers and ministers.
Biggers's artistic self‐discovery began in 1941 when he enrolled at a black college in Virginia Hampton Institute later Hampton University Although he intended to study the practical trade of plumbing he ultimately majored in art because he was encouraged ...
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 ...
missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.
In 1816 ...
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 ...
artist and educator, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. When he was ten, his family moved to Philadelphia, where he eventually attended South Philadelphia High School. In 1930 Brown graduated from the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, having specialized in public-school art education. In 1933 Brown was the first African American accepted into the Pennsylvania Public Works of Art Project a New Deal program owing in large part to the influence of Fiske Kimball who was the director of the Pennsylvania Museum of Art and an admirer of Brown s watercolors The Public Works of Art Project enabled Brown to exhibit his art in a number of venues including the Harmon Foundation in New York City Howard University the University of Pennsylvania and the Baltimore Museum of Art Kimball proved to be a steady ally inquiring about scholarship and travel funds for Brown and referring him to ...
Amalia K. Amaki
painter and printmaker, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Nathan Burnett Sr., a physician and surgeon, and Adelaide Waller, a homemaker. Though his parents, especially his father, hoped he would pursue a medical or legal career, Burnett instead evinced an interest in art, one perhaps originating with his parents’ own. Calvin appreciated his father's drawings and a painting of an apple done by his mother that was displayed at their home.
As a young boy Burnett routinely copied Mickey Mouse and other characters from the comics in the Sunday paper with such skill that his parents reserved a small section of the kitchen counter for his use They also took him to area museums where he was particularly impressed with Greek sculpture and engaged in prolonged discussions with both parents about the objects on view He was further encouraged by visits to his grandparents home where some ...
Pamela Lee Gray
cartoonist, author, artist, and graphic illustrator, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Elmer Cary Campbell, a high school administrator, and Elizabeth Simms, a painter and homemaker. Campbell moved to Chicago to live with an aunt and to take advanced art classes at Elmwood High School. In 1923, while a student there, he won a national contest for an editorial cartoon about Armistice Day. After graduation, Campbell attended the Lewis Institute and the University of Chicago, where he worked at The Phoenix a humor magazine He also worked as a post office messenger and railroad car waiter Campbell was accepted to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and completed three years of study there before returning to St Louis to work briefly at Triad Studios a commercial art studio He then moved to Harlem to live with an aunt and attend the Art Students League where ...
expatriate writer and artist, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the only child of Joseph and Eola Carter. His mother worked in a laundry; his father was a hotel porter. For most of his boyhood, the Carters lived in a second-floor apartment at 618 Cottage Lane in Kansas City's ethnically diverse north end. Their street was an alley of bungalows and small houses that ran behind the dwellings of mostly Italian immigrants. Carter was shy, bookish, and smart, and developed a fine singing voice. As a schoolboy he liked to take Sunday outings on his own to the stately art museum, where he stared at Flemish paintings. Carter graduated from Lincoln High School in 1941 and entered the U S Army He served three years with the 509th Port Battalion mostly in France On his return he worked as a railroad cook went to college Lincoln University in ...
was born near San Fernando, in the south of Trinidad, on 20 September 1813, into a well-off mixed-race (African/European) family. His parents were François and Rose Debonne Cazabon. His family belonged to the community known in the British Caribbean as the “free coloreds,” and it was French in language and cultural orientation. The Cazabons owned a sugar estate and enslaved laborers in the south of the island—like the Philips, the family to which Jean-Baptiste Philip, who led the free coloreds’ campaign for legal equality with whites in the 1820s, belonged.
Cazabon received his secondary education in England, at St. Edmund’s College, Ware, a Roman Catholic establishment. He began drawing and painting there. In his early twenties, he went to Paris to study art, supported by the proceeds of the sale of the family sugar estate. He lived in France between 1837 and 1848 exhibiting and selling his paintings ...
pioneer of abstract painting, was born Edward Clark in the Storyville section of New Orleans, Louisiana. Little is known about his family, but they moved north during the Depression, and he was raised in Chicago.
Following service in the U.S. Air Force, Clark attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago under the G.I. Bill from 1947 to 1951. At the Art Institute, he met abstract painter Joan Mitchell, with whom he developed a lifelong friendship, and the impressionist painter Louis Ritman, who was an encouraging instructor. During this period, Clark's work was traditional and figurative. But Clark's frustration with the Institute's academic restraints, such as the directive to avoid oils during this period, led-him to create an experimental self-portrait that took two years to complete. The classic head-and-shoulders depiction was set against a Renaissance landscape consisting of subtle layers of stippled watercolors.
In 1952 Clark ...
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 ...
Joye Vailes Shepperd
artist, was born in Richmond, Virginia, to John and Ophelia Cortor. The following year the Cortors moved to Chicago, Illinois, as part of the Great Migration. In 1910 fewer than fifty thousand blacks lived in Chicago; by 1920 the number had tripled In search of a better education and environment for their son the Cortors first moved to the South Side home to a thriving African American community John Cortor operated a modest business installing electricity into homes and repairing small electrical appliances he eventually saved enough to open a grocery store and earned the luxury of indulging in his favorite pastimes A motorcycle enthusiast and a sportsman he also learned to pilot a small airplane He belonged to a group of pioneering African American pilots and prided himself on the fruits of his practical brand of hard work ingenuity and self determination Though John Cortor was not ...
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 ...