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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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Aaron Myers

While a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in the 1930s, Elizabeth Catlett first encountered African sculptural art and the contemporary work of Mexican muralists. These two art traditions inform most of Catlett's oeuvre. Her sculpted figures have the same voluminous, rounded forms of the people portrayed in the murals of Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera. At the same time, the faces of Catlett's sculpted figures have an owl-like, lunar quality that seems to be derived from African mask design. This stylized facial quality can also be observed in some of Catlett's graphic work, especially in her lithographs. In her linocuts, on the other hand, the faces and bodies of figures are rendered in a more realistic manner; these linocuts are stylistically related to the work of printmakers at the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico City, where Catlett studied from 1946 to 1947 She combined ...

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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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Amy Helene Kirschke

sculptor and printmaker. Catlett was born six months after her father died of tuberculosis. The Washington, D.C., native was the daughter of two educators. Her father was a teacher at Tuskegee Institute and in the Washington, D.C., public schools, and her mother was trained at the Scotia Seminary in North Carolina as a teacher. Upon Elizabeth's father's death, her mother immediately sought a job, eventually working as a truant officer in the Washington, D.C., public school system. Catlett's mother always strongly emphasized education for her three children. The granddaughter of freed slaves, Catlett credited her resolve in sculpture to her family's commitment to education, noting that her profession has traditionally been reserved for white men.

Catlett identified with four underserved groups women blacks Mexicans and poor people She did not see herself as exceptional rather she saw herself as exceptionally fortunate A precocious student she skipped two grades and ...

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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 ...

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Michelle K. Massie

teacher and legislator, was born Kirkland Leroy Irvis in Saugerties, New York, the older of Francis H. and Harriet Ten Broeck Cantine Irvis's two children. Francis was self-employed, and Harriet was a homemaker. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Albany, New York. While Irvis's father instilled in his children the value of education, his mother taught them the importance of art and human emotion. Her lessons would inspire Irvis to become a renowned wood sculptor and published poet. He graduated from Albany High School with honors in 1934 and went on to attend New York State College for Teachers (later SUNY), where he graduated summa cum laude in 1938 with an AB in History.

The harsh realities of racism that his parents tried to shield from him as a child would meet him head on as an adult Denied teaching positions upon graduation Irvis went back to ...

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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 ...

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Lean'tin L. Bracks

artist and educator, was born Gregory David Leon Ridley Jr. in Smyrna, Tennessee, one of three children of Gregory David Leon Ridley Sr., a deacon minister, and Lucile (Elder) Ridley, a domestic worker and artist. Lucile Ridley was known for her quilts, appliqués, and crafts, which she displayed at local arts and craft shows and club exhibits as far away as Appalachia. Gregory Ridley often traveled with his mother when she exhibited her work, and he learned a lot from her. His mastery of repoussé, a metalwork technique used to create a relief design, often by working the reverse side of a metal surface, began when his mother taught him to mold the tinfoil from cigarette wrappers into various shapes. Ridley later graduated to pounding or molding brass and copper.

In 1936 the family moved to Nashville Tennessee where Gregory Ridley completed his education in the ...

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African American painter and sculptor. Born in Harlem, Jones studied art at the City College of New York beginning in 1950. By 1955 she had completed her degree in Fine Arts and Education, and had two daughters, Michele Faith Wallace and Barbara Faith Wallace. From 1955 to1973 Ringgold taught in the New York City public schools. She spent many summers in Provincetown, MA, painting landscapes. In 1959 she completed a Masters degree in fine arts at City College of New York. Two years later Ringgold made her first trip to Europe, where she visited museums in Paris, Florence, and Rome. In 1962 she married Burdette Ringgold and began using his name professionally. Her first political paintings, including The American People series (1963–7), were inspired by the writings of James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka (then Leroi Jones) and included the powerful imagery of The Flag Is Bleeding ...

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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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Joanna Grabski

Senegalese artist, educator, and administrator, was born in Dakar, Senegal, on 18 May 1948. Sy became a practicing artist in the 1970s, a period when Senegalese artistic production moved away from its independence-era association with Négritude philosophy and the state patronage of President Léopold Sédar Senghor. Sy attended the National School of Art Education in Dakar, Senegal (1970–1976), as well as the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium (1976–1979), where his studies focused on drawing, painting, and printmaking. With his artistic sensibility forged in a cosmopolitan crucible, Sy’s ideas about art and artists developed with sensitivity to international perspectives. This orientation figured into both his individual artistic practice and his pedagogical approach at the National School of Fine Arts in Dakar, where he taught from 1979 to 1986. During his tenure as Director of the National School of Fine Arts from 1986 to 1996 he ...

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Elisabeth Harney

Senegalese visual artist and teacher, was born in 1931 near Dakar.

In 1947, Tall trained in an early private art studio in Dakar, run by the Frenchman Cosson. He then traveled in 1955 on a government scholarship to Paris to study at the École spéciale d’architecture. In 1959, Léopold Sédar Senghor, the philosopher, poet, and later first president of Senegal, saw some of Tall’s drawings on exhibit in Paris and encouraged him to pursue fine arts. Following this encounter, Senghor promoted the young Tall, supporting his application for a grant to attend the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and to pursue further instruction in Sèvres, where Tall studied painting, serigraphy, tapestry, mosaics, and pedagogy.

Papa Ibra Tall is best known for the key role he played in postindependence Senegal as a teacher in the art school and as director in the national tapestry center Critics would characterize ...

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crystal am nelson

sculptor, was born Edward N. Wilson Jr. in Baltimore, Maryland, to Edward Wilson, a registrar for a historically black college, and his wife, a homemaker. Wilson and his sister grew up in an industrious family whose roots began in Freetown, a freedmen's township in modern-day Somerset County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. His grandfather had been a businessman, a superintendent of black schools in their area, and a lay preacher.

Wilson began informal art studies while he was still in elementary school At age seven he was bedridden for more than a year with rheumatic fever During his confinement his mother encouraged him to draw paint and weave Upon recuperating Wilson returned to school and finished as the salutatorian of his elementary school class In junior and senior high school he abandoned his art studies and became involved in sports He proved exceptional in football basketball wrestling and ...

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Melissa A. Kerr

artist and educator, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, one of four children of Reginald and Violet Wilson, immigrants from British Guiana. Wilson's parents held working-class positions in the Boston area but were forced onto public relief at the onset of the Great Depression. In 1938 Wilson attended the Roxbury Boys Club, where he took art classes taught by graduate students from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. These students passed on the techniques of their teacher, the Russian émigré painter Alexandre Iacovleff, whose lessons stressed the meticulous rendering of the human form. Wilson's student drawings, often emulative of Iacovleff's conté crayon technique, were so impressive that his instructors brought a portfolio of his work to the attention of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, which led to a full scholarship in 1939.

At the School of the Museum of Fine Arts ...

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Jonette O'Kelley Miller

artist and sculptor, was born on a farm near Frankfort, Ohio. Woodard was the youngest of three children of William P. Ecton. A former slave, he had fought in the Civil War and later became a successful businessman in Ohio and California. Little is known of his wife, Woodard's mother. Several of Woodard's relatives were artists; one of her grandmothers was an expert weaver and a male relation (either her grandfather or uncle) was a sculptor. While Woodard was still an infant, her family moved to Vernon, California. Her passion for studying Africa's history and cultures began at the age of twelve when her family was introduced to a visitor from Africa.

As a student at Polytechnic High School Woodard studied architectural drawing After graduation she found a job in a café and began to experiment with clay in her free time She went on to study sculpture ...