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Candace L. LeClaire

artist, was born to Mattie Bell, an unmarried, teenage sharecropper in Emelle, Alabama. Dial was the second of Bell's twelve children and was named simply “Buck” at birth. He did not have a formal surname and grew up uncertain of the identity of his biological father. Mattie Bell married a man named Dan Pratt shortly after the birth of her third son, and the couple went on to have nine more children. His mother's new and growing family proved to be a difficult adjustment for Buck, and he was sent to live with his great-grandmother, Had Dial, on the nearby farm of Bell's older cousin, Buddy Jake Dial. The Dials, who were of African and Native American descent, raised and cared for Thornton; they put him to work on the farm, and gave him the last name of Dial.

Dial s artistic sensibilities in part developed ...


crystal am nelson

folk artist, was born Samuel Doyle on St. Helena Island, the Gullah Islands, South Carolina, one of nine children of Thomas Sr. and Sue Ladsen Doyle farmers on the Wallace plantation of mostly freed slaves Doyle attended the Penn School which was one of the country s first vocational and agricultural schools created by the Freedmen s Associations of Philadelphia to educate freed slaves on St Helena s Island He studied literature and carpentry through the ninth grade but was recognized for his drawing skills A teacher encouraged him to travel to New York where he could better nurture his talent with the growing opportunities available to African American artists however owing to financial constraints Doyle chose to remain on the island He dropped out of the Penn School following the ninth grade and found a job as a store clerk He later took on work as a ...


Theresa Leininger-Miller

artist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Anderson Johnson and Lizzie Jackson. When Johnson was ten years old, his father died of an unknown cause. Because his mother suffered from tuberculosis, the children were sent to relatives. Johnson lived with his maternal uncle, Sherman William Jackson, and his wife, the sculptor May Howard Jackson, for several years in Washington, D.C. Then he and his siblings stayed briefly with their maternal grandparents in Alexandria, Virginia. When their mother died in 1902 the girls went to a Catholic school in Pennsylvania and the boys went to a Sisters of Charity orphanage in Worcester Massachusetts Johnson attended public school and worked in the Sisters of Charity Hospital He began painting as an adolescent while recovering from a long illness After Johnson studied singing briefly at a music school in Boston he lived with relatives in Chicago ...


Amalia K. Amaki

sculptor, painter, and printmaker, was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies, the only child of Malcolm, a pharmacist, and Miriam Knight, a homemaker. Knight lost her father when she was two, and her mother suffered a severe leg injury that permanently limited her mobility when a hurricane struck the island while she was still very young. As a result Gwen grew up with foster parents and moved with this family to the United States in 1920, settling in St. Louis, Missouri. Always writing, drawing, and dancing she completed her first paintings between the ages of eight and nine years of age. At thirteen she moved with her family to New York, where she attended Wadleigh Annex and Wadleigh Street School for Girls. She was an avid reader of newspapers and modern literature, especially the work of Countée Cullen, Virginia Woolf, and Zora Neale Hurston ...


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 ...


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 ...


J. Deborah Johnson Sterrett

painter and sculptor, was born in Gloster, Mississippi, the fourth of six children to Reverend James W. Washington, a cabinetmaker and an associate minister at the Gloster Baptist Church, and Lizzie, a homemaker. The birth year for Washington has been reported between 1909 and 1911 Washington made a futile effort to obtain a birth certificate and is reported to have rejected the notion of chronological age In the rural segregated town of Gloster Washington endured poverty unequal education and racially fueled terrorism that propelled him into a lifetime fight for social justice As a boy of six he saw his father under threats from the Ku Klux Klan forced to flee town in the trunk of a white friend s car Wasington never saw him again Without his father Washington forged a greater bond with his mother whom he credits for nurturing his natural talents in the ...


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 ...