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 ...
Amalia K. Amaki
Vincent F. A. Golphin
artist and creator of Luther, one of the first comic strips with African American characters to be widely published in U.S. newspapers, was born in Washington, D.C., two blocks north of Union Station, then the national capital's major transportation center. Brumsic Brandon Sr. worked there as a railway porter. Brandon Jr.'s mother, the former Pearl Brooks, was a stock clerk and maid at the Kann's Department Store.
At Charles Young Platoon Elementary School, Brandon was a high achiever who loved to draw, which inspired him to pursue art as a career. In 1942, when he entered Armstrong Technical High School, he took nearly every painting, sketching, and sculpture course. Also, at the urging of teachers, he added courses in drafting, which later made him more employable. Brandon graduated in February 1945 intent on becoming a comic strip artist but instead he became one of the first African ...
Donna M. Wells
photographer, journalist, and diplomat, was born on the campus of Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University), in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Oglethorpe Laboratory Elementary School, a practice school on the campus. Davis's professional career began in high school and continued until his retirement in 1985. He was first introduced to photography by William (Bill) Brown, an instructor at the Atlanta University Laboratory High School where Davis was a student. Throughout high school and later as a student at Morehouse, Davis supported himself through photography assignments from local newspapers and public relations firms.
Davis's college education was suspended in 1944 when he joined the armed forces during World War II and fought with the Ninety-second Infantry Division in Italy. After his tour, Griffith returned to Atlanta in 1946 and continued his college studies. He befriended writer and professor Langston Hughes and civil rights activist and ...
Brenda K. Delany
expressionist painter, was born Herbert Alexander Gentry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of James Gentry, a commercial printer from Virginia, and Violet Howden, a dancer who immigrated to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica. Herbert's parents married in Pittsburgh and had two children. The elder, Elsa died at age four of pneumonia. In 1923 young Herbert and his mother moved to Harlem where she was hired as a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl and later took the stage name of Theresa Jentry. They lived on 126th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, surrounded by the jazz music, theatrical productions, and art of the Harlem Renaissance. As the son of a dancer, Gentry was continuously exposed to the imaginative world of artists and entertainment. His mother took him to art museums and introduced him to performers, like Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, Count Basie, and Ethel Barrymore This creative ...
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 ...
painter, was born Peyton Cole Hedgeman, the fifth of thirteen children in Widewater, Virginia, to James Hedgeman, an illiterate professional hunter and tour guide for fishermen, and Nancy Hedgeman. Hayden began to draw at the age of four, but he also loved music and longed for a fiddle. He later illustrated these two passions in the painting Midnight at the Crossroads (n.d.), a self-portrait as a boy holding a fiddle, wondering which path to take.
As a teenager, Hayden was part of the Great Migration of African Americans moving to the North and arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1906, where he worked in a drugstore, and then was a roustabout and did graphic design for the Ringling Brothers Circus. In 1912 Hayden joined the U S Army 24th Infantry Regiment in New York with a letter of reference from a timekeeper at the Catskill ...
Donna M. Wells
photographer, was born in Washington, D.C., into a middle-class family. His father was a physician, and his mother was an educator. In the 1930s he attended Dunbar High School, where his classmates included future photographers Harrison Allen and brothers Bobby and George Scurlock, sons of prominent African American photographer Addison Scurlock. Allen recalled that on several occasions the boys walked from school to Scurlock's photography studio at Ninth and U Streets to watch him work. This sparked their interest in pursuing photography, first as a hobby, then as a career. The Scurlocks later took over their father's studio, and Allen became a photographer for the Department of Labor.
McNeill entered Howard University as a pre-med student but kept up his skills by photographing campus events, particularly celebrity visitors to the university. When Olympic track star Jesse Owens made a campus visit McNeill snapped a picture of ...
portrait artist and illustrator, was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in the predominantly black west side of the city. He was the second of three children born to Carl Frank Owens, a bus driver, and Ada Mae Lightfoot Owens. As early as when he was four years old, Owens became well known in his neighborhood for his ubiquitous sketchpad and his ability to make likenesses of his family and playmates. His early formal education included attendance at Sampson Elementary, McMichael Middle School, and Northwestern High School, from which he graduated in 1949.
Although Owens's parents were supportive of his choice to make a career as an artist, they also encouraged him to pursue teaching. In 1952 he earned a bachelor of science degree in art education from Wayne State University That same year Owens landed his first professional job teaching art in the ...
Angela R. Sidman
architect, was born in Washington, D.C., to parents whose names and professions are unknown. As a child, he spent time with his grandfather, a bootblack who worked near the U.S. capitol building. Robinson would listen to the congressmen exchange banter while they had their shoes shined. In 1916 Robinson graduated from the M Street High School and began studying at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Design in Philadelphia. One year later, as the United States was entering World War I, Robinson left school to enlist in the U.S. Army Field Artillery Corps, 167th Brigade. He served in France and was in Paris for the Armistice in 1918. The city's grand buildings and expert urban planning made such an impression on Robinson that he decided to pursue the study of architecture upon his return to the United States.
In 1919 Robinson returned to Philadelphia and entered ...
artist and preacher, was born to a West African father and a Cherokee mother in Africa, although the exact date was not recorded. After two years the family moved to the United States and settled on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, where Sparrow s maternal grandfather lived Sparrow later claimed the man was a tribal chief Sparrow grew up in an area that was settled by Cherokees and the descendants of slaves At seven he began preaching to the forest animals then he began speaking in tongues and speaking to his family s Pentecostal church In his youth he drew stick figures in the sand then recorded images on scraps of paper One day he discovered pieces of plywood and began to use them to for his sketches A passing man offered to buy one but Sparrow angrily refused he had not made pictures to sell ...
Damond L. Howard
educator and artist, was born Leo Franklin Twiggs in Saint Stephen, South Carolina, the eldest of six boys and one girl born to Frank Twiggs, a millworker from Greenwood, Mississippi, and Bertha Lee Meyers, from Saint Stephen. Though neither of Twiggs's parents had reached high school, they both encouraged him to pursue an education.
In 1950, when Twiggs was sixteen, his father died of cancer. Despite the tragic loss, his mother Bertha encouraged him to finish high school. To help sustain the family Twiggs took an after-school job doing janitorial work at the Star Theater in Saint Stephen, owned and managed by Wilder Funk. There Twiggs learned from the theater's white projectionist how to operate the projection equipment and control the lighting. When the projectionist quit, Twiggs acquired the job full time.
Twiggs graduated in 1952 as valedictorian of his high school class As a ...
Amalia K. Amaki
photographer and film producer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to William Howard Wallace, a chef and musician, and Margaret Shannon Wallace, a real estate broker. William was the younger of the couple's two children; his older sister, Jacquelyn, was born 9 August 1936. William attended Chicago's public schools, graduating from Betsy Ross Elementary in 1951 and Central YMCA High in 1955.
Wallace's uncle gave him a camera on his tenth birthday, triggering his fascination with photographic images. With money he earned from his paper route, Wallace bought his first developing kit the following year. Three years later his family moved to a new apartment, and their landlord, Anthony Haywood was an accomplished freelance photographer with his own darkroom Noticing Wallace s interest in the medium Haywood took him under his tutelage Guided by Haywood Wallace developed the fundamental technical skills that prepared him for ...
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 ...