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Amalia K. Amaki

graphic artist, painter, printmaker, and political activist, was born in Chicago in 1931. An only child, he attended Chicago public schools, moving briefly to Washington, D.C., to study at Howard University with Alain Leroy Locke, Sterling Allen Brown, and James Amos Porter. After one year he then enrolled at Alabama State College (later Alabama State University) to study under the sculptor, painter, and printmaker Hayward Louis Oubre, and he received a bachelor of arts degree. Bailey continued study at the University of Southern California (USC) as a student of Charles White and the Hungarian-born Francis de Erdely. He earned the bachelor of fine arts degree in 1958 and the master of fine arts degree in 1960. At USC he worked as a graduate assistant for two years, introducing the students Mel Edwards and Calvin Burnett to the work ...

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Hilary Jones

missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.

In 1816 ...

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Susan B. Iwanisziw

commercial painter, artist, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only known child of Jeremiah Bowser from Maryland and Rachel Bustill, daughter of the prosperous black abolitionist and educator Cyrus Bustill. The intermarriage among the region's free black Quaker families headed by Cyrus Bustill, Robert Douglass Sr., Jeremiah Bowser, and David Mapps created a dynamic force that benefited all African Americans and particularly spurred David s personal growth and accomplishments Jeremiah a member of the Benezet Philosophical Society served as a steward on the Liverpool lines and later it seems he was the proprietor of an oyster house near the intersection of 4th and Cherry Streets where David Bowser first hung up his sign as a commercial painter Later the Bowser family moved to the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia into a house at 481 North 4th Street where Bowser remained for the ...

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Kennedy A. Walibora Waliaula

South African painter, writer, poet, and antiapartheid activist, was born in Bonnievale in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The third-born child in a family of five (four sons, and one daughter), Breytenbach was a twin, although his twin died at infancy. The Breytenbachs descended from the lineage of one Coenrad Breytenbach, a military officer of lower rank who arrived in South Africa from Europe in 1656 It is unclear whether Coenrad Breytenbach was Dutch or whether he had other European origins On the maternal side Breyten Breytenbach descended from the Cloetes of France However he would often downplay his European origins stressing instead his ties to Africa Two of his brothers were prominent figures in South Africa and had strong associations with the apartheid system Jan was a senior military officer while Cloete was a famous photojournalist Breytenbach s opposition to apartheid and Afrikanerdom made him something of a ...

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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 ...

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Alejandro Gortázar

was born in Montevideo on 22 June 1926. He is recognized both in Uruguay and the rest of the world mainly for his paintings. He lived in Uruguay between 1926 and 1970, and later on between 1990 and 2002. In the twenty years out of his country, he lived in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Much of his work remained in those countries. In 1993 stated that he had sold more than three thousand paintings all over the world Galloza s childhood was marked by the experience of living in Montevideo and then in the countryside because of his mother s constant change of jobs He was clarito light skinned mulatto in his own words because his father was a white man even though he never knew him When he was fourteen years old he and his mother returned to the capital city Soon after he ...

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Mary Anne Boelcskevy

painter and civil rights activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. “Teddy,” as he was called, was one of six children of Edwin Gailliard Harleston and Louise Moultre. Harleston's father, born in 1852, was one of eight children of the white plantation owner William Harleston and his slave Kate. Edwin Gailliard Harleston had worked as a rice planter but returned to Charleston and his family's Laurel Street home in search of a better living for his-wife and children. There he ran a produce-transporting business for a few years and then brought his nickname “Captain” along when he left boating in 1896 to set up the Harleston Brothers Funeral Home with his brother Robert Harleston a former tailor The segregated funeral business meant they would have no competition from whites Most of Captain s sons were uninterested in joining the business after their uncle Robert left however ...

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Pamela Lee Gray

musician, activist, author, painter, and sculptor, was born Richard Pierce Havens in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of nine children. He grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. His father, Richard Havens, worked as a metal plater and dreamed of becoming a professional pianist, eventually learning to play a number of instruments. Richie's mother Mildred a bookbinder and casual singer at home encouraged her young son when he started singing background vocals at the age of twelve for local groups All kinds of music were played in the Havens home Richie s grandmother listened to Yiddish gospel and big band music his mother enjoyed country music and his father loved jazz He joined the doo wop singing group the Five Chances at age fifteen and performed the next year with the Brooklyn McCrea Gospel Singers a group that sang hymns for neighborhood churches Havens ...

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Jennifer Drake

poet, visual artist, performer, and bohemian citizen of the world, was born Theodore Jones in Cairo, Illinois, to parents who worked on Mississippi riverboats. While little is known about Joans's childhood, two stories circulate widely. The first is that he was born on a riverboat; the second is that his father, a riverboat entertainer, gave the twelve-year-old Joans a trumpet and dropped him off in Memphis, Tennessee, to make his own way in the world. It has been documented that Joans's father was murdered in the 1943 Detroit race riots, and various autobiographical writings indicate that Joans spent some of his childhood in Indiana and Kentucky.

After earning his BFA in painting from Indiana University in 1951, Joans moved to New York's Greenwich Village and became a central figure in the Beat scene. He associated with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg who would first ...

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Juanita Patience Moss

abolitionist, Union soldier, barber, politician, and journalist, was born to free parents near Alexandria, Virginia. His mother was Patsy Johnson, but his father's name is unknown. At twelve, Johnson left Virginia and ventured to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to learn the apothecary business, but instead he decided to be a hairdresser. He moved to Albany, New York, in 1851 and became interested in the abolitionist movement. After returning to Philadelphia in 1855 he joined the Banneker Literary Society to write and speak against slavery. Later, in 1859, he was caught helping fugitive slaves escape via the Underground Railroad, and he was forced to flee the city to avoid imprisonment.

Johnson was a Freesoiler in his younger days, having trained with the old antislavery party that included such notables as Frederick Douglass, Bishop Logan, and Octavius Catto For many years a staunch Republican ...

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Todd Palmer

artist, was born Norman Wilfred Lewis in Harlem, New York, the second of three boys born to Wilfred Lewis and Diana Lewis (maiden name unknown). From his earliest school days, Lewis observed how people formed group identities––and noticed the ways he didn't belong. He recalled that Harlem during his boyhood was an Italian and Jewish place where “the only Negroes … were [building] superintendents.” Later, as white ethnic residents moved away and more African Americans arrived, he recognized differences within Harlem's “new Negro” community. Lewis was keen to the ways his family's immigrant outlook was distinct from blacks with U.S. roots: his parents came to Harlem from Bermuda, where his father had been a fisherman and his mother ran her own bakery.

At nine years old Lewis discovered a desire to paint But his father warned that his racial identity would be an intractable obstacle and admonished Lewis for ...

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Paul Von Blum

art historian, educator, curator, and artist, was born Samella Sanders in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Samuel Sanders, a strawberry farm owner and Rachel (Taylor) Sanders, a seamstress. Lewis's childhood in New Orleans exposed her to black history, culture, and art—a background that informed all of her professional activities. Her early experiences with segregation catalyzed the powerful antiracist vision that influenced her entire life. For example, as a young art student, she encountered a major barrier in visiting the Delgado Art Museum, located in a municipal park reserved exclusively for whites. Her teacher, Elizabeth Catlett managed to secure a bus and had everyone in her class move directly from the bus to the museum technically avoiding the racial restrictions of the park itself Lewis began her formal art studies at Dillard University studying with Catlett who became her lifelong friend and mentor ...

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Aaron Myers

Abdias do Nascimento grew up in Franca, São Paulo, Brazil, where his father was a shoemaker and his mother worked as a sweetmaker, cook, and seamstress. Very early he distinguished himself as an excellent student, and by the age of thirteen he was teaching primary school and working as an accountant for local farmers. Nascimento served in the army from 1930 to 1936, during the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas. At this time Nascimento began his career as a black activist by joining the Frente Negra Brasileira (United Black Front). In 1937, when Vargas established the Estado Novo dictatorship, the Frente Negra was shut down, along with all other political organizations.

Nascimento's first major Afro-Brazilian project was the theater group Teatro Experimental do Negro (TEN), which he founded in 1944 For the next twenty four years he worked as its director and as a playwright Nascimento created ...

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Jeremy Rich

Ghanaian artist, was born on 13 June 1922 in the Ghanaian town of Wenchi located in the Brong Ahafo Region Her father Emmanuel Victor Asihene was a moderator in the Presbyterian church in her home town Her mother was Dora Asihene In her youth Okoh studied at Presbyterian mission schools She drew attention for both her artistic ability and her excellent play in field hockey Some even dubbed her The Joan of Arc of Ghana Hockey for both her skill and her determination to promote the sport later in life Okoh attended and graduated from Achimota College the first government run university in Ghana At the university she became known for her painting and her collages which she continued to produce through the early twenty first century She then worked as a schoolteacher in and around the eastern Ghanaian town of Kukurantumi and became known to locals as Teacher ...

Article

C. M. Winston

artist, curator, art historian, filmmaker, writer, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Howard Pindell and Mildred, both educators. By the age of eight Pindell already aspired to be an artist, and she attended Saturday drawing classes at the Fleischer Art Memorial.

Pindell graduated cum laude with a BFA from Boston University and earned an MFA from Yale University's School of Art and Architecture in 1967. She moved to New York City in 1967 after graduating from Yale and she worked primarily as a painter of nonobjective and figurative works during the early years of her career That year she landed a job at the Museum of Modern Art MoMA as an exhibition assistant in the department of national and international circulating exhibitions At MoMA she rose through the ranks from curatorial assistant to associate curator in ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

artist and writer, was born Faith Willie Jones at Harlem Hospital in New York City, the youngest of three children of Willi(e) Edell (Posey) and Andrew Louis Jones Sr., a truck driver for the city sanitation department. The Joneses separated in the early 1930s and divorced in 1942, by which time Willi Jones had begun work as a seamstress in the garment district. By the 1950s, using the name Madame Willi Posey, she had established a small dressmaking and design business in Harlem. Faith, who suffered from severe asthma and missed kindergarten and much of first grade because of her illness, enjoyed an especially close relationship with her mother, who organized creative projects to occupy her curious daughter. After graduating from Morris High School (she spent the first three years at George Washington High School) in 1948 Faith Jones began studying art at the City ...

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Painter and sculptor Faith Ringgold has spent her artistic career breaking boundaries and opening opportunities for African American creativity, especially that of women. Born in New York City and raised in Harlem, Ringgold earned a bachelor's degree in art and education in 1955 and a master's of fine arts degree in 1959 from The City College of New York. Dissatisfied with the traditional art training she received in New York and later in Europe, Ringgold studied African art, reading the work of Black Arts Movement authors and participating in the Civil Rights Movement. Paintings from this period—including The Flag Is Bleeding (1967), US Postage Stamp Commemorating the Advent of Black Power (1967) and Die (1967)—blend the geometric shapes and flat perspective of African-inspired artistic traditions with powerful political and social protest.

Ringgold has been an outspoken critic of racial and gender prejudice ...

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Michele M. Humphrey

Faith Ringgold is recognized as one of the leading artists of the twenty-first century. Her work appeared in many major museums around the world and resides in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Faith Jones Ringgold was born in Harlem, New York. She was the third child of Willi Posey Jones, a dressmaker and professional fashion designer, and Andrew Louis Jones Sr., a sanitation worker. She was troubled with asthma at an early age and found herself drawn to art as a way to pass the time. Inspired by her mother’s career and determined to pursue her own dream of becoming an artist, she enrolled at the City College of New York in 1948 Her first social barrier presented itself when she learned that women were not allowed to major in art at the ...

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Originally named David Samba wa Mbimba-N’zinga-Nuni Masi, Chéri Samba was born in the village of Kinto-Mvuila in the southern Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Samba moved to the country’s capital, Kinshasa, in 1972. He trained as a commercial sign painter and cartoonist, and opened his own studio in Kasa Vabu (a district in the city) in 1975 His distinctive style builds on the techniques of African urban signage bright colors bold graphic drawing and a fusion of image and text Samba mimics the sign painting style and combines it with ironic written text sometimes in the tone of advertising copy In this manner the artist uses parody to transform the seemingly ordinary painted sign into a medium for sociopolitical critique inspired by local news and global travel The text in his paintings is often written in English French Kikongo and Lingala appealing to ...

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Luther Brown

artist, illustrator, and activist, was born Dolphus Smith Jr. to Dolphus Smith Sr., a construction worker, and Lottie Hall, a schoolteacher, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dolphus Sr. and Lottie had met and married in their native Georgia and migrated north for better jobs and greater opportunity. Dolphus Jr. was the eldest of their four children: he had two brothers, Ronald Earl (deceased) and Thomas, and a sister, Raziyah.

The family established itself in a working-class community in North Philadelphia, and they took advantage of all that the city had to offer. Lottie, who had been keenly interested in literature and the arts, gave up teaching and devoted herself to her family. She kept abreast of cultural events, poetry (especially the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar and art exhibits that might interest and inspire her children They attended dance performances by the Dance Theatre of ...