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Edmund Abaka

William Anton Amo (1703–1756), philosopher and educator, was an academic par excellence and a courtier in Germany at a time when there were very few, if any, Africans studying, let alone lecturing, in Europe. He was most likely the first black professor to teach in Germany. Amo’s achievements are all the more significant considering that they occurred about three centuries ago.

Amo was born in 1703 in a small village called Awukenu, near Axim, in the southwestern Gold Coast (now Ghana). The circumstances of Amo’s arrival in the Netherlands are not clear. One version indicates that in 1707 Amo s parents entrusted him to a Brunswick subject working for the Dutch West Indian Company on the Gold Coast By this time the Dutch had superseded the Portuguese and taken over the Portuguese fortified positions on the Gold Coast São Jorge da Mina Elmina São Sebastiao Shama and ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Mikael D. Kriz

architect, was born Walter Thomas Bailey in Kewanee, Illinois, to Emanuel Bailey and Lucy Reynolds. After attending Kewanee High School, Walter enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1900. There he studied in the architecture program, which was then part of the College of Engineering. The program at Illinois differed from those at most other architecture schools in the country: many schools followed in the tradition of the École des Beaux-Arts, emphasizing classical modes and principles of architecture, but the program at Illinois was influenced largely by German polytechnic methods of teaching. At Illinois, Bailey received an extensive education in the science of construction and in the history of architecture. Construction courses gave students both theoretical and practical training, while courses in the history of architecture taught them periods and styles such as Egyptian and Islamic, as well as classical.

As a student Bailey was ...

Article

Myrna Guerrero Villalona

was born in the San Carlos neighborhood of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, on 16 June 1930, at the beginning of the dictatorship of Rafael L. Trujillo (1930–1961), and three months before the San Zenón hurricane flattened the city (3 September 1930).

Her parents were Porfirio Balcácer and Tomasina Rodríguez a couple with scarce financial resources who valued education as a way out of poverty In addition to Ada they had a son Porfirio Lorenzo Ada grew up between her parents home on Ravelo Street in San Carlos and the home of her maternal grandmother in San Juan de la Maguana The city located about 118 miles from Santo Domingo afforded Ada direct contact with myths and legends from the cultural reservoir of her country s heritage Her grandfather Catedral de los Santos was the overseer on a farm and a devotee ...

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Amalia K. Amaki

photographer and educator, was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Florida and Robert Battey, both laborers. He was living in New York City by his late teens and had become one of the most famous African American photographers in the country by 1900, although nothing is known about his educational background. In 1900 Battey married Anna H. Stokes, who gave birth to two daughters, Edyphe F. (born 1901) and Antoinette (born 1908). Affiliated with studios in Cleveland and New York, his primary base, he enjoyed a lucrative career as a studio and commercial photographer with a respected reputation among Americans and Europeans. He was superintendent of the Bradley Studio in New York with such clientele as Sir Thomas Lipton and Prince Henry of Prussia, and was a partner in Battey and Warren Studio in the city.

Battey made classic photogravure portraits of the Tuskegee Normal and ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

a portrait photographer, was born David Edward Smikle in Jamaica, Queens, New York, to Mary Smikle and Kenneth Smikle. He changed his name to Dawoud Bey in the early 1970s. Bey received his first camera, an Argus C3 rangefinder, in 1968 and began to learn how to take pictures. In 1973 he apprenticed to Levey J. Smith at MOT Photography Studio in Hollis, New York, and began spending time at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Bey then attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City for a year but left in 1978 to accept an artist's position with the Cultural Council Foundation CETA Artists Project in New York. He graduated with a B.A. from Empire State College, State University of New York, in 1990. He also earned an M.F.A. from the Yale University School of Art in 1993.

Bey emerged as a documentarian of ...

Article

master printer, artist, educator, and founder of the Printmaking Workshop, was born in Summit, New Jersey, the son of Jeannette Chambers Blackburn and Archibald Blackburn of Jamaica, West Indies. Robert, also known as Bob, had a younger sister, Gertrude, and a half brother. His father, although trained as a minister, found employment with the Lackawanna Railroad in Summit. When Blackburn was two, the family moved to rural Elmira, New York. Blackburn fondly recalled his early childhood in the rural town, where he listened to the train whistle from his bedroom window, attended church every Sunday, and won a toy car as a prize for a drawing he had done. During the Depression, when Blackburn was seven, his family moved to Harlem, where he attended public schools from 1932 to 1936.

At Frederick Douglass Junior High School, Blackburn was influenced by his teacher, the poet Countée Cullen who sparked ...

Article

Terencia Kyneata Joseph

was born on the Leeward Caribbean island of Nevis. The names and occupations of his parents are not known. Around the age of 15, he migrated to the United States in 1980 to complete his education. He attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in 1989. In 1997 he was awarded a master of fine arts degree from Hunter College, City University of New York.

Very little research has been done on Boddie’s years as a young man in Nevis. It is not clear whether he immigrated to the United States with any members of his immediate family or what the arrangements were for his stay upon arrival. It is known that he has two older sisters, whose photographs are featured in his work Mourning Memory (1998).

Boddie has described himself as a multidisciplinary artist who uses the ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

artist and political activist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1937 Bolden received a four‐year scholarship to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, where he majored in illustration and advertising design. Upon his graduation he became an artist and layout designer for a top advertising agency in Philadelphia. His duties included prep work for original work by Norman Rockwell. In fact Bolden and Rockwell became close friends, and it was Rockwell who “encouraged Bolden to use neighbors and local townspeople as models for his art,” according to a New Hampshire Circle of Friends flyer.

After World War II Mel Bolden moved to New York and became a full‐time illustrator, working first for black newspapers, then for such general magazines as Fortune, Saturday Review, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Boy's Life, as well as for major newspapers like the New York Times and the New York ...

Article

Dália Leonardo

artist and educator, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. When he was ten, his family moved to Philadelphia, where he eventually attended South Philadelphia High School. In 1930 Brown graduated from the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, having specialized in public-school art education. In 1933 Brown was the first African American accepted into the Pennsylvania Public Works of Art Project a New Deal program owing in large part to the influence of Fiske Kimball who was the director of the Pennsylvania Museum of Art and an admirer of Brown s watercolors The Public Works of Art Project enabled Brown to exhibit his art in a number of venues including the Harmon Foundation in New York City Howard University the University of Pennsylvania and the Baltimore Museum of Art Kimball proved to be a steady ally inquiring about scholarship and travel funds for Brown and referring him to ...

Article

Richard A. Long

Margaret Burroughs was born in St. Rose, Louisiana, near New Orleans, but was brought at the age of five by her parents, Alexander and Octavia Pierre Taylor, to Chicago where she grew up, was educated, and where her distinctive career has unfolded. She attended the public schools of Chicago, including the Chicago Teacher's College. In 1946, she received a BA in education and in 1948, an MA in education from the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1940 to 1968 she was a teacher in the Chicago public schools and subsequently a professor of humanities at Kennedy-King College in Chicago (1969–1979).

Burroughs has a national reputation as a visual artist and as an arts organizer. Her long exhibition record as a painter and printmaker began in 1949 and included exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad A retrospective of her work was held in Chicago ...

Article

LaNesha NeGale DeBardelaben

artist, educator, and museum founder, was born Margaret Victoria Taylor in St. Rose, Louisiana, the youngest of three daughters of Christopher Alexander Taylor, a farmer, and Octavia Pierre Taylor, a domestic worker and schoolteacher. As a small child Margaret Taylor learned that her great-grandmother had been enslaved. Taylor and her two sisters were enamored by the stories told to them about their Creole, white, and African heritage by their French-speaking Creole grandmother. When the five-year-old Taylor moved to Chicago with her family and many other North-migrating African Americans, she took with her an appreciation for the enriched oral tradition common to her beloved St. Rose community.

In Chicago the young Taylor adjusted to life in a northern city While in the South Taylor s mother had taught in a one room schoolhouse with little or no classroom supplies in Chicago Taylor attended a school that had many classrooms ...

Article

Flora González

María Campos-Pons's multipanel photographs, installations, and performances often portray a mythic or ironic view of the self-portrait. She often uses her own body as a canvas onto which she inscribes symbolic messages that define her individual self in terms of domestic rituals and her national identity in relation to mythic origins.

Born in Matanzas, Cuba, to parents who labored in and about the sugar industry, Campos-Pons enjoyed the benefits of a universally free education instituted in Cuba after the 1959 revolution headed by Fidel Castro. She received her artistic training at the National School of Art (1980) and the Higher Institute of Art (1985), both in Havana. In 1988 she attended the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Subsequently, she married Neil Leonard an American and established residency in the United States Her works have been exhibited throughout Europe and the Americas since ...

Article

Michael Niblett

was born on 24 September 1920 in the village of Agricola in British Guiana (now Guyana). The only son of Ethel Robertson and Alan Carew, he had a middle-class upbringing. Between 1926 and 1938, he attended Agricola Wesleyan School, then Catholic elementary school, followed by Berbice High School in New Amsterdam, Guyana. In 1939 he was called up to serve in the British army, and four years later he became a customs officer in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital. He published his first written work in the Guyanese magazine Christmas Annual in 1944, while also experimenting with painting and drawing in his leisure time. From 1945 to 1949, he studied in the United States, first at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., and then at Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1948 Carew exhibited his paintings at the Cleveland Public Library Returning to Guyana a year later he ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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

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 ...

Article

Kimberly Curtis

visual artist, educator, and activist, was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the second of the seven children of Dana C. Chandler Sr., a longshoreman, and Ruth Chandler. At age five Dana Chandler Jr. and his family moved to Roxbury, Massachusetts, a predominantly African American community. Chandler's parents, who had not attended school beyond the ninth and eleventh grades, raised their children to recognize the importance of completing high school and earning a college degree. Chandler grew up in a poor, working-class family and attended Boston's public schools throughout childhood and adolescence. He received primary and elementary education at the Asa Gray and Sherwin schools. After a six-month hospital stay to treat rheumatic fever, he transferred from Boston Latin School to J.P. Timility Junior High School. At Boston Technical High School his art teachers Ralph Rosenthal and Gunnar Munnick inspired him to become an artist. In 1959 Chandler graduated ...