Evans, Minnie Jones – African-American Artist

Minnie Jones Evans (American, 1892 to 1987)

Born into poverty, Minnie Evans was raised in North Carolina by her grandmother. Too poor to continue in school after the sixth grade, despite loving history and “reading about the Gods”, Evans labored as a fish-seller on the Delaware River Sound. In 1918, she became a domestic worker at an elegant estate whose beautiful surroundings inspired her first wax crayon paintings in 1935 (now at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art). By the 1940s she was producing hundreds of works at the gatehouse of the estate and selling them to tourists. Her talent was recognized by a collector and patron of the arts who bought over five hundred paintings and arranged art shows and sales. Most of Evans’ paintings and drawings are similar, yet no two are identical. They represent a cosmos in which God, man, and nature are inextricable: God is frequently winged, encircled in a curvilinear garden paradise of butterflies, eyes, trees, plants, and flora painted in soft, clear colors. Often, the encircled object is not God but a face with piercing eyes and full lips. Evans produced about one thousand visionary paintings and drawings in her lifetime. Her work has been collected and shown by museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and many more.

Information Courtesy of Rago Arts, October, 2019.

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