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Baye Yimam

Ethiopian painter, diplomat, customs director, entrepreneur, linguist, university professor, and novelist, was born in Zage, Gojjam province of Ethiopia, on 10 July 1868. His father, Gebre Iyesus Denke, was a priest serving a local church, and his mother, Fenta Tehun Adego Ayechew, was presumably a housewife. In Zage, then a center of learning, Afewerq learned the painting, poetry, church music, and liturgical dancing of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition.

Afewerq was related to Empress Taytu Betul, wife of Emperor Menilek (1844–1913 on account of which he was brought to the palace to continue what he had started in Zage He was later sent to Italy to further his studies at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin Upon his return from Italy he began to produce mural paintings by order of the palace and decorated the churches at Entotto then the capital city However he soon ...

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Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptian poet, critic, broadcaster, painter, and physician, was born in the al-Hanafy district in Cairo. His father, Muhammad Abu Shadi, was the head of the Egyptian Bar Association and his mother, Amina Naguib, was a poetess. He completed his primary and secondary education in Cairo and was involved in antioccupation activities during his adolescence. He joined the faculty of medicine (named Qasr al-Aini) and then traveled to London in 1912 to complete his studies in medicine at the University of London where he obtained a certificate of honor from Saint George Hospital in 1915. He married a British woman and lived with her in Egypt until her death in 1945. Following his return to Egypt in 1922, he served in many governmental posts in such places as the Ministry of Health and the Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University. In 1946 he immigrated to the United States ...

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Jennifer Carolina Gómez Menjívar

was born in Bluefields, Nicaragua, to a working-class family. The youngest of eleven children, she was a self-taught painter who began her career painting free portraits before becoming one of Nicaragua’s most renowned artists. Her paintings depicted the landscapes and people of that country’s Atlantic Coast, a historically marginalized region.

Beer is the only painter from Bluefields to have received national and international attention for her artwork. The city was a major port during the colonial period, when it was the capital of the British Protectorate of the Mosquito Coast. It was incorporated into Nicaragua in 1894, though it remained largely forgotten and ignored until the late twentieth century. Thus its primarily Afro-descendant and Afro-indigenous population remained economically and politically disenfranchised throughout its history. It was in this context that Beer raised four children as a single mother.

Beer began painting during a two year stay in the United ...

Article

Sherry Johnson

was born in San Juan, Trinidad, to parents who had the means to provide the artist with the tools necessary for her to explore a love of drawing. Little is known about her family background and early life. She developed her skills at high school at St. Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando, where, recognizing she could “do art,” her teachers encouraged her. In high school she often scored the highest grades in the visual arts—a fact that embarrassed her because, even then, her art did not follow conventional replications of the landscape like the British models she and her fellow students sought to emulate. These were the beginnings of what appeared to be her innate sensibility for abstract modern art.

In the late 1960s Belgrave attended Sir George Williams University now Concordia in Montreal Canada where she earned a B A in the fine arts and literature concurrently obtaining her degree ...

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Theresa Leininger-Miller

writer and artist, was born in Giddings, Texas, the daughter of Joshua Robin Bennett and Mayme F. Abernathy, teachers on an Indian reservation. In 1906 the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Gwendolyn's father studied law and her mother worked as a manicurist and hairdresser. When her parents divorced, her mother won custody, but her father kidnapped the seven-year-old Gwendolyn. The two, with Gwendolyn's stepmother, lived in hiding in various towns along the East Coast and in Pennsylvania before finally settling in New York.

At Brooklyn's Girls' High (1918–1921) Bennett participated in the drama and literary societies—the first African American to do so—and won first place in an art contest. She attended fine arts classes at Columbia University (1921) and the Pratt Institute, from which she graduated in 1924 While she was still an undergraduate her poems Nocturne and Heritage were published in ...

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Sandra Y. Govan

Although she never collected her published poetry into a volume nor produced a collection of short stories, Gwendolyn Bennett was recognized as a versatile artist and significant figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

Torn between her ambition to work as a graphic artist and her desire to become a proficient writer using the medium of either poetry or prose, Bennett maintained the profile of an arts activist in New York City's African American arts community for over twenty years. However, the five-year period spanning 1923 to 1928 proved to be the most productive for her as a creative writer. It was within this brief span that James Weldon Johnson recognized Bennett as a lyric poet of some power.

Born in Giddings, Texas, Bennett led a nomadic childhood before her father, Joshua Robbin Bennett finally settled his family into comfortable surroundings in Brooklyn New York Bennett completed her secondary education at ...

Article

Theresa Leininger-Miller

Bennett, Gwendolyn (08 July 1902–30 May 1981), writer and artist, was born in Giddings, Texas, the daughter of Joshua Robin Bennett and Mayme F. Abernathy, teachers on a Native American reservation. In 1906 the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Bennett’s father studied law and her mother worked as a manicurist and hairdresser. Her parents divorced and her mother won custody, but her father kidnapped the seven-year-old Gwendolyn. The two, with her stepmother, lived in hiding in various towns along the East Coast and in Pennsylvania before finally settling in New York.

At Brooklyn s Girls High 1918 1921 Bennett participated in the drama and literary societies the first African American to do so and won first place in an art contest She next attended fine arts classes at Columbia University 1921 and the Pratt Institute from which she graduated in 1924 While she was still an ...

Article

Maud C. Mundava

poet, artist, illustrator, teacher, and journalist. (Some of her works appear under Gwendolyn Bennett Jackson and Gwendolyn Bennett Crosscup.) Bennett was the daughter of Joshua R. Bennett and Mayme F. Abernathy, teachers on a Nevada Native American reservation. She was born in Giddings, Texas, and later lived in Pennsylvania, Florida, and New York. When Bennett's parents divorced, she moved to New York with her stepmother and father. She was married to Alfred Jackson, a physician (1928) and then to Richard Crosscup, a teacher (1941). She had no children.

As an African American poet, artist, illustrator, teacher, and journalist, Bennett contributed significantly to the Harlem Renaissance (an African American artistic movement) and to U.S. history and culture. She attended fine arts classes at Columbia University (1921), at Pratt Institute (1924 and in France ...

Article

Ghirmai Negash

avant-garde Eritrean novelist, playwright, and painter-cum-sculptor, was educated in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, from which he graduated in 1963 with a degree in public administration and political science. Beyene Haile lived in Addis Ababa until Eritrean independence. In 1992, he moved to Asmara, where he worked as a management consultant and trainer while still pursuing his artistic career.

Beyene Haile is the author of three Tigrinya-language novels and a play. His 1965 debut novel, Abiduʾdo Teblewo? Madness differs from conventional Tigrinya writing in at least three fundamental ways First it takes an intellectual and artist as its main character and tells his story with compelling force and narrative skill Wounded by life the central character of the novel a bohemian artist called Mezgebe uses his art to heal his wounds and those of others in a manner that borders on insanity Another ...

Article

Kennedy A. Walibora Waliaula

South African painter, writer, poet, and antiapartheid activist, was born in Bonnievale in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The third-born child in a family of five (four sons, and one daughter), Breytenbach was a twin, although his twin died at infancy. The Breytenbachs descended from the lineage of one Coenrad Breytenbach, a military officer of lower rank who arrived in South Africa from Europe in 1656 It is unclear whether Coenrad Breytenbach was Dutch or whether he had other European origins On the maternal side Breyten Breytenbach descended from the Cloetes of France However he would often downplay his European origins stressing instead his ties to Africa Two of his brothers were prominent figures in South Africa and had strong associations with the apartheid system Jan was a senior military officer while Cloete was a famous photojournalist Breytenbach s opposition to apartheid and Afrikanerdom made him something of a ...

Article

Richard A. Long

Margaret Burroughs was born in St. Rose, Louisiana, near New Orleans, but was brought at the age of five by her parents, Alexander and Octavia Pierre Taylor, to Chicago where she grew up, was educated, and where her distinctive career has unfolded. She attended the public schools of Chicago, including the Chicago Teacher's College. In 1946, she received a BA in education and in 1948, an MA in education from the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1940 to 1968 she was a teacher in the Chicago public schools and subsequently a professor of humanities at Kennedy-King College in Chicago (1969–1979).

Burroughs has a national reputation as a visual artist and as an arts organizer. Her long exhibition record as a painter and printmaker began in 1949 and included exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad A retrospective of her work was held in Chicago ...

Article

LaNesha NeGale DeBardelaben

artist, educator, and museum founder, was born Margaret Victoria Taylor in St. Rose, Louisiana, the youngest of three daughters of Christopher Alexander Taylor, a farmer, and Octavia Pierre Taylor, a domestic worker and schoolteacher. As a small child Margaret Taylor learned that her great-grandmother had been enslaved. Taylor and her two sisters were enamored by the stories told to them about their Creole, white, and African heritage by their French-speaking Creole grandmother. When the five-year-old Taylor moved to Chicago with her family and many other North-migrating African Americans, she took with her an appreciation for the enriched oral tradition common to her beloved St. Rose community.

In Chicago the young Taylor adjusted to life in a northern city While in the South Taylor s mother had taught in a one room schoolhouse with little or no classroom supplies in Chicago Taylor attended a school that had many classrooms ...

Article

Michael Niblett

was born on 24 September 1920 in the village of Agricola in British Guiana (now Guyana). The only son of Ethel Robertson and Alan Carew, he had a middle-class upbringing. Between 1926 and 1938, he attended Agricola Wesleyan School, then Catholic elementary school, followed by Berbice High School in New Amsterdam, Guyana. In 1939 he was called up to serve in the British army, and four years later he became a customs officer in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital. He published his first written work in the Guyanese magazine Christmas Annual in 1944, while also experimenting with painting and drawing in his leisure time. From 1945 to 1949, he studied in the United States, first at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., and then at Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1948 Carew exhibited his paintings at the Cleveland Public Library Returning to Guyana a year later he ...

Article

Steve Paul

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 ...

Article

Pauline de Souza

was born on 26 December 1936 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to Georges Castera, a doctor, and Irene Aubry. At a young age, he started to write, and his work began to appear in the Port-au-Prince newspapers, including a September 1956 piece in the Haitian Herald. While still in Haiti, he met and was influenced by other writers, including Rene Belena, Jacques Stéphen Alexis, Félix Morisseau-Leroy, Paul Laraque, Anthony Lespes, Frederic Marcelin, and his brother. Castera also had an interest in illustration and painting, and was influenced by artists living in Haiti, such as Bernard Wah, Herve Telemaque, Jacques Gabriel, Dieudonne, Roland Dorcely, and Max Pinchinat. As Castera’s career progressed, he continued to maintain his interests in both writing and illustration. He has produced work in French, Spanish English, and Haitian Creole, the language of the common people.

In 1956 Castera left Haiti for Spain where he started to study ...

Article

Joëlle Vitiello

Georges Castera became interested in literature first in Haiti, then in high school in Montpellier, France, where he discovered the surrealists and the Négritude poets. It was during his stay in France that he also began to draw. Upon returning to Haiti, encouraged by Paul Laraque, he began to write in Creole. Castera has spent more than twenty years outside Haiti, mostly in Spain and the United States. He has always remained firmly connected to a popular imagination, both Haitian and international.

One of the best known Haitian poets Castera does not see himself as part of the artistic establishment despite his strong influence on the younger generation of poets Poetry is for him a fundamentally revolutionary act Writing in Creole implies an engagement in social and political issues as well as a reflection on the creative process Some of his poems parody the speeches of military leaders ...

Article

Robyn McGee

of Cuban descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, to parents whose names are unknown. Cruz's work encompassed a variety of influences, including Latin American, African, Egyptian, and Native American art. Cruz's dream‐like images in an array of dazzling colors, shapes, and movement, reflect his absorption of the Abstract Expressionist painters of American modernism. His canvases fused bold primary colors to create figurations, both animal and human, sometimes depicting distortions of violent and destructive behaviors. Through pen and brush, Cruz created a legacy of art with unique designs, historical significance and cultural awareness.

As a young man, Cruz studied art at the Art Students League and the New School for Social Research in New York, the Seong Moy in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and the New School for Social Research, New York. The year 1957 was a pivotal one in Cruz s life and ...

Article

Rodney Saint-Eloi

was born Villard Denis in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 2 December 1940. His father, Aristhène Denis, a maître d’hôtel, and his mother, Jeanne Féquière, married in 1933. He was the youngest of four children: William, Raymonde, Daniel, and Villard. Denis experienced a childhood marked by poverty and prejudice relating to his skin color. The poem “Pétion-ville en noir et blanc” recalls the painful memories of his childhood.

At a young age, Denis learned to speak French fluently from a Guadeloupean woman who boarded at his parents’ home from 1939 to 1945, and who was affectionately referred to as Grandma Alice. As a youth, he was introduced to drawing, and he discovered a French literature textbook in which he passionately read the classics, learning to recite François Villon and Joachim du Bellay by heart. Denis pursued secondary school and attended the Centre de Céramique de l’Éducation Nationale. In 1954 ...

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

Alejandro Gortázar

was born in Montevideo on 22 June 1926. He is recognized both in Uruguay and the rest of the world mainly for his paintings. He lived in Uruguay between 1926 and 1970, and later on between 1990 and 2002. In the twenty years out of his country, he lived in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Much of his work remained in those countries. In 1993 stated that he had sold more than three thousand paintings all over the world Galloza s childhood was marked by the experience of living in Montevideo and then in the countryside because of his mother s constant change of jobs He was clarito light skinned mulatto in his own words because his father was a white man even though he never knew him When he was fourteen years old he and his mother returned to the capital city Soon after he ...