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Amalia K. Amaki

sculptor, ceramicist, and educator, was one of America's most prolific and respected three‐dimensional artists in the mid‐twentieth century. Born in Washington, North Carolina, to Elizabeth Davis and Thomas Miggett, he lived primarily with his father until the fall of 1926 when he relocated to Harlem and began living with his mother and her husband, George Artis. In New York he assumed the surname of his stepfather. He attended Haaren High School and went on to study sculpture and pottery at the Augusta Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in the early 1930s, joining the ranks of Jacob Armstead Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight, Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, and other notable artists whose initial studies included instruction under Savage. Artis was also a contemporary of his fellow sculptors Selma Hortense Burke and Richmond Barthé the latter the most exhibited and honored three dimensional artist associated with ...

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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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Rebecca Martin Nagy

artist and educator, was born in Addis Ababa to an Ethiopian mother and an Armenian father who was a colonel in the Imperial Body Guard of Haile Selassie. Boghossian received early art training at Tafari Makonnen Secondary School and in private lessons with Stanislas Chojnacki, a historian of Ethiopian art and water-colorist, then librarian at the University College of Addis Ababa (later Haile Selassie I University and now Addis Ababa University), and with Jacques Godbout, a Canadian writer, filmmaker, and painter who taught French at the University College.

In 1955 Boghossian won second prize at an art exhibition held as part of Haile Selassie s Jubilee Anniversary Celebration and was awarded an imperial scholarship to study in London After attending classes at St Martin s School the Central School and the Slade School of Fine Art in London the young artist decided to transfer his studies to Paris where ...

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Margaret Barlow

American sculptor, teacher, and writer. Burke initially trained as a nurse at the Women’s Medical College, NC, before studying philosophy at Columbia University, New York (1936–41). During the 1930s she became one of a few prominent black American sculptors (see African American art §I 2.) participating in the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Projects. She also became an instructor in sculpture at the Harlem Community Art Center and a frequent contributor to periodicals and newspapers, and she worked with Aristide Maillol in Paris and Hans Reiss (1885–1968) in New York. In 1940 she was awarded a Rosenwald Fellowship and in the period 1943–6 was director of the Student’s School of Sculpture, New York. Her sculpture is characterized by an idealistic intent in sensitively moulded stone carvings on humanistic themes, for example Lafayette and Salome exhibited at the McMillen Galleries New York ...

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Robin Jones

sculptor, art educator, and mentor, was born in Mooreseville, North Carolina, one of eight children of Mary L. Elizabeth Jackson Cofield Burke a homemaker and a teacher and Neal Burke a Methodist minister Burke s artistic experiences began in childhood when she played in the pliable soil around her North Carolina home I shaped my destiny early with the clay of North Carolina rivers I loved to make the whitewash for my mother and was excited at the imprints of the clay and the malleability of the material Krantz and Koslow She was further inspired by the art objects that her father and uncles brought back with them from their travels in Africa the Caribbean and Europe As a chef aboard ships her father had the chance to both preach and explore in other countries bringing back artwork Her uncles were missionaries who traveled extensively returning with mementos that ...

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Lisa E. Rivo

sculptor, printmaker, and teacher, was born Alice Elizabeth Catlett to Mary Carson, a truant officer, and John Catlett, a math teacher and amateur musician who died shortly before Elizabeth's birth. Elizabeth and her two older siblings were raised by their mother and paternal grandmother in a middle-class neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Encouraged by her mother and her teachers at Dunbar High School to pursue a career as an artist, she entered Howard University in 1931, where she studied with the African American artists James Lesesne Wells, Loïs Mailou Jones, and James A. Porter. After graduating cum laude with a BS in Art in 1935, Catlett taught art in the Durham, North Carolina, public schools before beginning graduate training at the University of Iowa in 1938 Under the tutelage of the artist Grant Wood Catlett switched her concentration from painting to sculpture and ...

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Freida High (Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis)

I don’t have anything against men but, since I am a woman, I know more about women and I know how they feel. Many artists are always doing men. I think that somebody ought to do women. Artists do work with women, with the beauty of their bodies and the refinement of middle-class women, but I think there is a need to express something about the working-class Black woman and that’s what I do.

(Gladstone, p. 33)

As a reputed sculptor and printmaker whose career began in the 1940s, Elizabeth Catlett is a major figure in modern American and Mexican art. Catlett’s work embraces the human condition, revealing a deep passion for dignifying humanity, especially working-class women and, in particular, African American and Mexican women. Titles of her sculpture suggest this interest: Black Woman Speaks (1970), Mother and Child (1940, 1993), Mujer (1964 ...

Article

Leslie Alexander

to Verona Hargro Davis Buffington, a homemaker, and Levonia “Lee” Davis, a coal truck driver and gospel singer. Raised on the East Side of Dayton, Ohio, Davis set his heart on a career in the arts as a child. Also talented at sports, the teenage six-feet four-inch tall Davis became an All-City basketball player. Graduating from Wilbur Wright High School in 1955, he won a basketball scholarship to DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He began working with clay at DePauw and came to prefer it as a medium he found mystical as well as expressive and immediate, since no object like a brush or pen comes between the artist and the medium.

Graduating from DePauw with a degree in art education in 1959 Davis taught art at Dayton s Colonel White High School and directed an after school arts education program at the city s Living Arts Center ...

Article

Monifa Love Asante

visual artist and educator, was born Melvin Eugene Edwards Jr., in Houston, Texas, the eldest of four children of Thelmarie Felton Edwards and Melvin Eugene Edwards Sr. His father was a brilliant and gifted man who worked as a waiter, laborer in the oil industry, photographer, and a professional scout for the Boy Scouts of America. His mother, a seamstress, from whom Edwards learned to sew, was also athletically and artistically talented. His grandmother was a quilter, whose patternmaking and use of color influenced Edwards. Woodcarving was passed down on his father's side, and one of his maternal ancestors was a blacksmith brought to America from West Africa. Both his father and George Gilbert, a family friend that Edwards considered an uncle, were interested in art and they nurtured Edwards. His father built his first easel. Edwards Sr. also passed on a love of music especially ...

Article

Gregory Eiselein

In his third-person autobiography, From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol (1894), John Mercer Langston recounts his career as one of the most influential African American leaders of the nineteenth century. Born in Virginia and educated at Oberlin, Langston became in 1854 the first African American admitted to the Ohio bar and in 1855 the first elected to public office in the United States (town clerk of Brownhelm, Ohio). Throughout the 1850s he worked within antislavery and civil rights movements, advocating a nationalist, pro-emigration position before becoming a Republican party activist. Heading recruitment of African American soldiers in the West during the Civil War, he rose to national prominence after the war as the president of the National Equal Rights League (a forerunner of the NAACP), an educational inspector for the Freedmen's Bureau, and a Republican party organizer. In 1868 he accepted a professorship at Howard ...

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Aimee Lee Cheek and William Cheek

John Mercer Langston was born free in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Ralph Quarles, a wealthy white slaveholding planter, and Lucy Jane Langston, a part–Native American, part-black slave emancipated by Quarles in 1806. After the deaths of both of their parents in 1834, Langston and his two brothers, well provided for by Quarles's will but unprotected by Virginia law, moved to Ohio. There Langston lived on a farm near Chillicothe with a cultured white southern family who had been friends of his father and who treated him as a son. He was in effect orphaned again in 1839, however, when a court hearing, concluding that his guardian's impending move to Missouri (a slave state) would imperil the boy's freedom and inheritance, forced him to leave the family. Subsequently, he boarded in four different homes, white and black, in Chillicothe and Cincinnati worked ...

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Aimee Lee Cheek and William Cheek

political leader and intellectual, was born free in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Ralph Quarles, a wealthy white slaveholding planter, and Lucy Jane Langston, a part-Native American, part-black slave emancipated by Quarles in 1806. After the deaths of both of their parents in 1834, Langston and his two brothers, well provided for by Quarles's will but unprotected by Virginia law, moved to Ohio. There Langston lived on a farm near Chillicothe with a cultured white southern family who had been friends of his father and who treated him as a son. He was in effect orphaned again in 1839 when a court hearing concluding that his guardian s impending move to slave state Missouri would imperil the boy s freedom and inheritance forced him to leave the family Subsequently he boarded in four different homes white and black in Chillicothe and Cincinnati worked ...

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Thomas Adams Upchurch

Born in Virginia to a wealthy white planter and a slave mother, John Mercer Langston was one of the most influential African Americans of the nineteenth century. Widely regarded by contemporaries and historians alike as second in importance only to Frederick Douglass, Langston actually superseded the venerable Douglass in certain ways. Although Douglass enjoyed more widespread renown, Langston held more government positions and had a more varied career. The two men first met in 1848 and maintained a friendship for many years thereafter. They disagreed on some important racial issues, however, which sometimes led to hard feelings and, near the end of their lives, an intense rivalry that most observers would say made them bitter enemies.

Langston was about ten years younger than Douglass and while they were both mulattoes born to slave mothers their upbringings could hardly have been more different Whereas Douglass endured the most abhorrent circumstances ...

Article

Willie Hobbs

visual artist and educator, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Alyce and Edward Love, about whom little is known. After attending Manual Arts High School, Love, a baseball standout, was slated to be recruited by the San Francisco Giants. The U.S. Air Force proved more attractive to Love than baseball. While serving a five-year stint in the military that ultimately took him to Japan, Love became deeply influenced by Japanese culture. He also developed an affinity for the music of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis and the discourse of the Black Arts Movement, as well as a fascination with architectural design.

After an honorable discharge, Love earned a BFA in Sculpture in 1966 and an MFA in Design in 1967 from California State University Los Angeles A postgraduate fellowship to study humanities and fine arts at Uppsala University in Sweden soon followed While there ...

Article

Frank Martin

artist, educator, and community activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Edward Rose Sr. and Mary Marshall. Arthur Rose attended the segregated public schools in Charleston. In 1942 Rose enlisted as a ship serviceman in the U.S. Navy; he served until 1945. A member of Company 1621, 18th Regiment, 28th Battalion of the U.S. Naval Reserve Corps, Rose entered basic training in Chicago and was later stationed at the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, for the duration of the war, and did not see combat. He returned to Charleston and graduated from Burke High School in 1946. He later matriculated at Claflin University, South Carolina's oldest historically black institution of higher learning, established in 1869.

Rose was among the first students in Claflin s history to major in fine arts During his college tenure Rose met and married fellow ...

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Lisa E. Rivo

sculptor, educator, and advocate for black artists, was born Augusta Christine Fells in Green Cove Springs, Florida, the seventh of fourteen children of Edward Fells, a laborer and Methodist minister, and Cornelia Murphy. As a child, Savage routinely skipped school, preferring to model small figurines at local clay pits, much to the consternation of her religious father, who, as she recalled in a 1935 interview, “almost whipped the art out of me” (Bearden, 168). At age fifteen, Augusta married John T. Moore, and a year later a daughter, Irene Connie Moore, was born; John Moore died several years later. In 1915 the Fells family moved to West Palm Beach, where Savage taught clay modeling at her high school. She later spent a year at Tallahassee Normal School (now Florida A&M). At some point after 1915 she married a carpenter named James ...

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Mary Ball Howkins

sculptor, teacher, administrator, and writer. Augusta Fells Savage, who became a prominent figure in the “New Negro” movement in 1930s and 1940s Harlem, was born in Green Cove Springs, Florida. Her mother, Cornelia Murphy Fells, was a laundress, and her father, Edward Fells, was a landowner, farmer, carpenter, and fisherman. Savage showed an interest in sculpting in early childhood, sometimes skipping school to mold clay ducks. Her father judged her youthful sculpture so severely from his fundamentalist religious standpoint that she eventually hid the work from him. Yet later, when in her twenties, she fashioned a sculpture of a Christian subject and won his approval.

At the age of fifteen Savage married John T. Moore, who died several years after the 1908 birth of their daughter A second marriage to James Savage ended in divorce in the early 1920s Augusta Savage traveled ...

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The seventh of fourteen children, Augusta Savage began to mold human figures out of clay at age six. She commenced professional art training after moving to New York City in 1921. Though Savage had briefly studied to be a teacher at the Tallahassee State Normal School (now Florida A&M), she enrolled at Cooper Union to study sculpture.

During the same period, Savage received a commission to sculpt a bust of W. E. B. Du Bois. Following the success of this work, she sculpted likenesses of other African American leaders including Frederick Douglass and Marcus Garvey.

Savage continued to create and exhibit portrait sculptures for the next two decades. Many depicted African or African American themes. In 1929, she traveled to Paris to work and study. Returning to America in 1932, she opened the Savage School of Arts and Crafts in Harlem where she taught ...

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Krystal Appiah

artist, teacher, and arts advocate, was born Mary Jeanne Parks in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest of four daughters of Hattie Brookins and Walter Parks, owner of a shoe repair shop.

Washington began developing her artistic talent formally in an advanced art class in high school. While exhibiting her work at a school art fair, Washington met the artist Hale Woodruff, who would become her lifelong mentor and friend. After high school, Washington enrolled at Spelman College, where she majored in art, studying under Woodruff and the sculptors Elizabeth Prophet and William Artis. While at Spelman, Woodruff encouraged Washington to spend the summer of 1945 at the Art Students League in New York, where she studied drawing under Reginald Marsh.

After Washington graduated from Spelman in 1946 Woodruff helped her receive a Rosenwald Fund scholarship to attend the Summer Art Institute at the experimental ...

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Leora Maltz Leca

curator and artist, was born in the Bronx, New York. His mother and father, both native New Yorkers, were of Caribbean and African American descent respectively. While Wilson identified with the analytical and critical capacities of his civil engineer father, he credited his mother, an art teacher, with nurturing his creativity from a young age. Growing up in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and suburban Westchester County, Wilson attended New York's High School of Music and Art, and frequented the New York City museums throughout his youth. He received a bachelor of fine arts from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Purchase in 1976 though even as an art student he seemed to have been more interested in spatial relationships and performance than in a traditional medium such as painting In his senior year of college he traveled to West Africa spending time in Ghana Nigeria Togo and ...