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 [...] Click here to continue reading.

Dial, Thornton – African-American Artist

Thornton Dial (American, 1928 to 2016)

Thornton Dial was a pioneering African-American artist who produced exuberant drawings and paintings and large scale assemblages and sculptures with oil paint and the found material he collected. The work by Dial most admired in the art world are his assemblages commenting on race and the place of African-Americans in the larger society. Dial rightfully credited Bill Arnett, founder of the Souls Run Deep Foundation, as the person [...] Click here to continue reading.

Purvis Young – African-American Artist

Purvis Young (American, 1943 to 2010).

A self-taught artist from the south, the majority of Young’s works depict urban life and figures surrounded by thematic imagery. Frequently rendered subjects include looming eyes, horses and trucks. Young grew up in the inner-city ghetto of Overtown and spent part of his early life incarcerated. His idealistic struggle for freedom, peace, equality and escape are common themes throughout his paintings.

Young collects discarded materials, including countertops, plywood, [...] Click here to continue reading.

Hunter, Clementine – African-American Artist – Louisiana

Clementine Hunter (1887 to 1988)

Clementine Hunter (pronounced Clementeen) was born to Creole parents, Antoinette Adams and Janvier Reuben, in late December of 1886 or early January of 1887 at Hidden Hill Plantation near Cloutierville, Louisiana. Hunter would never learn to read or write, later saying she only had about ten days of schooling, and was put to work in the fields when she was very young. At 15, she left Hidden Hill, which [...] Click here to continue reading.

Massey, Willie – African-American Artist

Willie Massey (American, 1906 to 1990)

Willie Massey is a self-taught artist from Kentucky who spent his life as a tenant dairy farmer. He made only utilitarian objects before his wife’s death in 1955. After, he began to make sculptures, which he called “tricks”. He fashioned animals and birds, farm equipment, birdhouses and airplanes from found objects and repurposed material. He would also buy stretched canvases and paint on the backs to create pre-made [...] Click here to continue reading.

Ferdinand, Roy – African-American Artist

Roy Ferdinand (American, 1959-2004)

Roy Ferdinand was a self-taught artist who chronicled street life in New Orleans’ impoverished African-American neighborhoods for fifteen years, documenting its violent subculture and making portraits of residents who had no choice but to share these mean streets. Ferdinand, who compared himself to a battlefield sketch artist, worked in ink markers, colored pencils and children’s watercolors on poster board. His style, with its bodies slightly out of proportion, multiple vanishing [...] Click here to continue reading.

Smith, Mary Tillman – African-American Artist

Mary Tillman Smith (American, 1905 to 1995)

Mary T. Smith was born Mary Tillman, the daughter of a sharecropper. School was a strain, despite her intelligence, as her hearing was impaired. She worked for most of her life as a domestic laborer. In 1941, the father of her only child built a home for her in Hazelhurst, Mississippi. It was near a garbage dump piled with discarded corrugated tin that was free for the [...] Click here to continue reading.

Catlett, Elizabeth – African American artist

Elizabeth Catlett (American, born 1919)

Highly regarded as a sculptor, painter, printmaker and teacher, Catlett has been a major force in the African-American and Mexican art communities. Over her long career, she has used her considerable talent and skill in championing the cause of women, minorities and working people. Born in Washington, DC, she was the child of two teachers. She studied art at Howard University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree and then continued her [...] Click here to continue reading.

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