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Pamela Lee Gray

wood carver, sculptor, and folk artist, was born Jesse James Aaron in Lake City, Florida, to descendants of slaves and Seminole Indians. Aaron attended school for less than one year before he was sent to work as a contract laborer for local farms. Trained as a baker when he was twenty-one years old, he found he enjoyed the creativity it required. He opened several bakeries, worked as a cook at Gainesville's Hotel Thomas from 1933 to 1937, and then cooked for a variety of fraternities and hospitals in Florida. Aaron also worked as a cook aboard the Seaboard Air Line Railroad during this time.

Aaron married Leeanna Jenkins, and when the family settled in northwest Gainesville in the 1930s they opened a nursery. From this point until 1968 when Aaron became a folk artist at the age of eighty one it is difficult to determine what is ...

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J. Deborah Johnson Sterrett

painter and sculptor, was born on a small farm just outside Kansas City, Kansas, the second of five children of Ed Dwight Sr., a professional baseball player with the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs, and Georgia Baker, a devout Catholic, who took on the primary care of the children. The family moved into Kansas City when Dwight was ten years old and his mother opened a restaurant. The children worked alongside her. Dwight was a precocious child who displayed his artistic talent from age two, drawing cartoon characters and painting throughout his childhood. He began making signs for his mother's restaurant. When he was fourteen years old, he opened his first lucrative business, a sign shop that served retail establishments and area churches.

Dwight attended Catholic schools and graduated from Bishop Ward High School in 1951, and he joined the air force in 1953. In 1955 ...

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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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Cheryl A. Alston

artist and activist, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the third of ten children of Betty Solomon Guyton and George Guyton, a construction worker. His mother reared the children on her own after George Guyton left the-family, when Tyree Guyton was nine years old. Guyton grew up on the east side of Detroit in an area called “Black Bottom,” one of the oldest African American communities in the city. He attended Northern High School, but he did not graduate and earned his GED at a later date.

Guyton began painting at the age of eight when his grandfather, Sam Mackey a housepainter at the time who later became a painter of fine art gave him the tool to create a paintbrush Because of his family s poverty Guyton felt all he had was his art He felt like he had no freedom and he realized early on that ...

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Monifa Love Asante

sculptor and printmaker, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Victoria Inez, a librarian and beauty shop owner and Cleo Howard Hunt, a barber. Hunt's father was born in rural Georgia, his mother in Tennessee. His parents were part of the Great Migration, the early twentieth century exodus of over one million African Americans out of the violent and limiting South to locations where greater economic opportunity and social equality were more likely. His parents met in Chicago, where their families had relocated, and married in 1934. The family lived mostly on the south side of Chicago. Between the ages of nine and eleven, Hunt and the family lived in the small town of Galesburg, Illinois. Hunt's mother sang both professionally and in church. Her idol was Marian Anderson and she named Hunt s younger sister after the noted gospel singer She encouraged her son s ...

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Edmonia Lewis often drew upon her dual ancestry for inspiration. Her best-known work, Forever Free (1867, Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), was inspired by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, the document issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 calling for the freeing of slaves in the United States. Created in marble, Forever Free depicts a man and a woman who have learned of their freedom. In an expression of gratitude, the woman kneels with her hands clasped; the man rests his foot on the ball that held them in bondage, raising his arm to display the broken shackle and chain on his wrist.

Little is known about Lewis's early life. Sources give differing birth dates (1843, 1844, and 1845 and birthplaces Ohio New York and New Jersey Her father was an African American and her mother was a member ...

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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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Leora Maltz Leca

painter and sculptor, was born in Junction City, Kansas, but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at a young age with her parents and younger sister, Lauren. There, the artist grew up, drawing and painting since her earliest years, with her interest in art encouraged by a creative and supportive family. Stout attended Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, graduating with a degree in art in 1980. Throughout her high school and college years, Stout cultivated—and perfected—a precise, photographic realism, inspired by the works of Edward Hopper and others. A postcollege stint as a signmaker at a local thrift store helped the artist develop a facility for lettering and signage, along with a fondness for text that informs her work to this day.

An extremely versatile artist adept at working in a range of materials and media Stout most often explores the terrain between painting and sculpture in visually complex and ...

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Nico Slate

artist, teacher, and activist, was born in Aberdeen, Mississippi, the son of Cleveland Sykes, a handyman, and Anna Bell Clay. Growing up in Mississippi and in St. Louis, Missouri, Sykes and his eight siblings faced segregation and poverty. In the face of racism and hardship, his parents taught him to treat his home and his neighborhood with care and respect. In 1958 Sykes moved to San Diego, California, where he began painting in his spare time and where he met Erma Thornton. In 1961 he moved again, this time to Los Angeles, where two years later he and Erma were married.

Rozzell and Erma Sykes rented a small bungalow on the 4800 block of St Elmo Drive in Mid City Los Angeles The building was old and dilapidated but the Sykeses improved it practicing one of Rozzell s favorite sayings If you are ...

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Krystofer A. Meadows

abstract artist, printmaker, and sculptor, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the youngest of eight children of Ruth Voight, a schoolteacher, and Erlan Thompson, a pharmacist. As a little girl, she knew that she wanted to be an artist. Her earliest efforts were in photography, processing and developing prints in the darkroom that her father built for-her. Thompson graduated from Old Stanton High School in 1953. Her father wanted her to attend Florida A&M, but she insisted on going to Howard University in Washington, D.C. Although she had spent many years painting, Thompson entered Howard without any formal training in art. At Howard she studied with James A. Porter, an artist and the author of the 1942 book Modern Negro Art the definitive study of African American art in its time Porter was influential in Thompson s development as an artist and was ...

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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 ...

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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 ...