Black History Month

Painted 11 years after Henry Ossawa Tanner first settled in Paris in 1891, this rapidly executed plein-air oil sketch is one of the artist’s rare depictions of the French capital. His vantage point is from the right bank of the Seine looking west toward the towers of the Palais du Trocadéro, the exhibition hall built for the 1878 World’s Fair. A diffuse, hazy light fills the scene, which is free of human activity save for a solitary figure dressed in black at the lower right. With short, loose brushstrokes laden with paint, Tanner captured the scattered reflections of light across both river and sky. (from National Gallery of Art)

May Flowers, a compelling photograph of three young African American girls, succinctly addresses the issues of race, class, and gender that the American artist Carrie Mae Weems has explored for decades. Related to a video Weems made in 2002 titled May Days Long Forgotten, the photograph evokes both spring’s renewal and May Day, the international workers’ holiday. Befitting these themes, May Flowers depicts girls from working-class families in Syracuse, New York, wearing floral-print dresses. Its tondo format, truncated foreground space, and tight focus on the figures harks back to Renaissance paintings of the Madonna and child, while its subject—adolescent girls with flowers in their hair, lounging on the grass—recalls both 19th-century paintings and photographs, such as those by Édouard Manet and Julia Margaret Cameron. Weems intensified this historical character by printing the photograph in sepia tones and placing it in a circular frame like those gracing the walls of 19th-century parlors. (from National Gallery of Art)

Black History Month

This week will feature artists

Aaron Douglass was born in 1899 in Topeka, Kansas . He was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. In 1936, Douglas was commissioned to create a series of murals for the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. Installed in the elegant entrance lobby of the Hall of Negro Life, his four completed paintings charted the journey of African Americans from slavery to the present. Considered a leader of the Harlem Renaissance, the cultural phenomenon that promoted African and African American culture as a source of pride and inspiration, Douglas was an inspiring choice for the project.(From National Gallery of Art and Wikipedia)

Sculptor Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller was born in Philadelphia and studied art in her hometown, as well as Paris, at the turn of the 20th century. During this period, more women were trained as artists than ever before in America, and she was commissioned several times to create dioramas for the US government. Fuller was an important catalyst in the Harlem Renaissance; her work Ethiopia Awakening served as a celebration of African independence and aimed to shatter associations with slavery. (From complex.com)

Black History Month

Alice Walker Beauty In Truth Trailer

Alice Walker was born Georgia in 1944 into a large family which helped define her character and the way she saw the world. She graduated from Sarah Laurence College in 1965, but first she attended Spelman where she met Martin Luther King Jr which influenced her to work as an activist in the South.

Author of several novels, short stories and poetry, Walker won a Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple which was also made into a motion picture starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. She won many other awards and honors, and her work focus’ on the lives of African American people and their struggles in a society that is not always for them.

Black History Month

Born Frederick August Kittel Jr. in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania in 1945. The African American playwright won Pulitzers for Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990) which were stories that depicted celebrate the history and poetry of African Americans.

August Wilson’s father did not live with the family, so he took his mother’s maiden name in honor of her.  Living in predominantly white communities, Wilson dropped out of school and spent most of his time at the library.

As he tried to further his career as a writer, he worked as a cook, porter, a gardener and a dishwasher. He later founded the Black Horizon Theater in Pittsburgh with his friend.  He began to write and produce more of his plays.  He wrote more than 16 plays. He won a Tony for Fences and several awards and honors. He died in 2005 of liver cancer.