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LeGrace Benson

was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1946 to parents whose given names are not definitively known His carpenter father died when he was 5 years old leaving Bazile and five siblings in the care of their widowed mother Reared as a devout Catholic Bazile remained so throughout his life attending church each Sunday until his final days Bazile lived most of his life on Rue des Césars in Port au Prince where he arrived with his mother and siblings at a time when the neighborhood was becoming densely populated Many people migrating from the countryside into the city in search of work during this time were Vodou practitioners who were also baptized as Catholics Bazile went to the local Catholic school with the intention of becoming an accountant He excelled in mathematics and geometry skills that he would put to use a few years later as an artist He ...

Article

Christopher Tiné

Not much is known about Frédéric-Bruly Bouabré’s early life. He was raised in the Daloa department of western Côte d’Ivoire, and the local Kru culture and community were an important part of his childhood. In 1948, when Bouabré was twenty-four, the as yet undistinguished young man had a celestial vision in Dakar. According to Bouabré, the heavens opened themselves to him and he understood that he was to use his artistic talent to maintain and share the culture of his people, which is rooted in nature and folklore. After his vision Bouabré considered himself reborn as Cheik Nadro, or “he who does not forget,” and has devoted his life to his drawing and other creative projects.

Bouabré s drawings often form a series They are generally small and rectangular and have a border of narrative text around them In this regard many of his drawings strongly ...

Article

LeGrace Benson

was born in the Bel Air district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a center of Vodou spiritual activity where a number of artists created sequined ritual flags and bottles essential to Vodou ceremonies. He grew up in the lakou (extended family) of the oungan (Vodou priest) Ceus “Tibout” St. Louis, leader and primary teacher of sequin artists. Spiritually precocious, Cédor became an oungan while still in his teens, and set up his own Vodou ounfò (temple) close to that of his mentor, Tibout. He continued to serve Tibout’s ounfò as manager and director, and was leader of a noted Rara band, a traditional Haitian musical genre. He married Marquis St. Louis, Tibout’s daughter, who was also skilled in the delicate stitching required to make the ritual objects.

By the time of Cédor s childhood and youth the Bel Air district once a semirural section of the rapidly expanding capital of Haiti was ...

Article

Born in Lafayette, Alabama, Sister Gertrude Morgan became an evangelist and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1939. She took the title “Sister” in the 1950s when, with two other street missionaries, she founded a church and an orphanage.

Morgan began painting in 1956, concentrating primarily on religious visions and biblical scenes. She believed that she was mystically married to Jesus Christ which she symbolized by dressing entirely in white Her paintings frequently depicted her with Jesus as bride and groom often with herself in black before and in white after the marriage As a street preacher Morgan eschewed the formal art world preferring to make folk art with any material at hand including Styrofoam cardboard lamp shades and jelly jars Her work frequently includes calligraphy which communicates a spiritual message or a biblical verse All her inspiration she felt came from God saying He moves ...

Article

Sylvie Kandé

multimedia artist, philosopher, and educator, was born in Harlem, New York, the only child of Daniel Robert, a lawyer, and Olive Xavier Smith Piper, an administrator. Belonging to a light-skinned African American family, she was confronted early on by challenges that ultimately gave her work some of its unique characteristics, namely the firm assertion of her black identity, her unremitting fleshing out of racial stereotypes, and her commitment to cross-cultural bridge-building. Her involvement with the arts began in childhood: a piano prodigy and ballet dancer, she also took classes at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957. Her political consciousness was first shaped in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which she joined in 1962, and by the events surrounding the March on Washington in 1963, commemorated in her 1983 poster Think about It She graduated from New Lincoln School in ...

Article

Josepha Sherman

artist and preacher, was born to a West African father and a Cherokee mother in Africa, although the exact date was not recorded. After two years the family moved to the United States and settled on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, where Sparrow s maternal grandfather lived Sparrow later claimed the man was a tribal chief Sparrow grew up in an area that was settled by Cherokees and the descendants of slaves At seven he began preaching to the forest animals then he began speaking in tongues and speaking to his family s Pentecostal church In his youth he drew stick figures in the sand then recorded images on scraps of paper One day he discovered pieces of plywood and began to use them to for his sketches A passing man offered to buy one but Sparrow angrily refused he had not made pictures to sell ...