Looking for inspiration for your “Portraits of the Pandemic” exhibition submission? What about some inspiration from art history?
Featured Historic Self Portrait: Jacob Lawrence
American artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) was best known for his dynamic and vibrant depictions of African American life and history. Unlike many artists, he rarely engaged in self-portraiture. In a rare self-portrait Lawrence portrayed himself as an artist in his studio in Seattle, Washington. The artist is surrounded by his tools and materials–tubes and jars of paint, clamps, a drill, a lathe, and a hammer. On the left, one of Lawrence’s paintings hangs on the wall. It is an image of Harriet Tubman leading slaves to freedom, originally executed for a children’s book, Harriet and the Promised Land.
In a self-portrait rendered in ink over graphite on paper, Lawrence concentrated his appearance into a few essential lines and shapes. A black arc describes the shape of his skull. His mustache is a complex of wavy lines flanked by heavier curves evoking folds of aging flesh. Lawrence left most of his face white to set off the abstracted black shapes of his nose, eyes, mouth, and mustache.
Feeling inspired? Click the link below for information on how to submit your self-portrait:
Misplaced by History: Artists Worth Knowing Gwendolyn (Gwen) Ann Magee
“The art flows through me but does not belong to me alone. It speaks for those who have no voices, whose voices have been ignored, whose voices have been silenced. It relates history and circumstances that must not be forgotten.”
Gwendolyn (Gwen) Ann Magee
Gwendolyn (Gwen) Ann Magee (1943 – 2011) was an African-American fiber artist. Magee learned to quilt in mid-life and quickly became known for her powerful abstract and narrative quilts depicting the African American experience. Her art was informed by her participation in the civil rights movement, careers in social work and business, and her experiences as a wife, mother, and grandmother.
Magee’s childhood in North Carolina was spent surrounded by art publications and visits to museums in New York with her adoptive mother, a schoolteacher. Fascinated with color, Magee recalled trying to dig into paper with crayons to achieve the depths and intensities that could match the brilliant hues in her mind’s eye. The power of color became a signature of her mature work.
Magee enrolled in the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Greensboro. UNC was in its fourth year of desegregation, and Magee was one of five African Americans in her class. Greensboro was a center of civil rights activities, and Magee became active in local demonstrations against segregation in the community, an experience that would later influence her artistic vision.
Following her graduation in 1963 with a B.A. in sociology, Jones continued graduate study in social science at Kent State and Washington universities. She married D. E. Magee, an ophthalmologist in 1969. The couple moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where they established careers and raised two daughters.
Wanting to make quilts for her daughters to take to college, Magee enrolled in a quilting class in 1989. That class lead to increasing interest in quilting, particularly as it related to other African American quilters. Initially working in traditional quilting methods, she soon moved into abstract designs, and then references to African culture using textile and design traditions. Her vision expanded to include her concern with social justice and African American history and culture.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Magee used her quilts to bring attention to racial injustices of the past and the present. Many of her quilts, including When Hope Unborn Had Died, narrate the impact of slavery in the United States. From 2000 to 2004, Magee worked on a series of twelve quilts inspired by the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson. Through her textile art, Magee has also responded to contemporary events. In response to the state of Mississippi voting to keep the Confederate battle cross in their state flag, she created Southern Heritage/Southern Shame in 2001, with layered images of the Confederate flag,
Said Magee, “I see art as a form of communication, a conversation between me, the artist, and the viewer. Each viewer brings different experiences, interacts with the work differently, even if it is two friends standing side by side.” Magee felt her quilts spoke a language that everyone could understand. “My hope is that anyone, no matter what their race or culture, will relate to the work, find something that speaks directly to them. Hopefully, it will continue to speak to people years after I am gone.” She died in Jackson in 2011, age 67, after battling a long-term illness.
Magee’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Museum of Mississippi History, the Michigan State University Museum, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, and has been exhibited internationally.
Join Curator, Stacy Peterson and Director of Education, Margaret Buhr for an informal tour of the “African Art in the 20th Century” from the Collection of the Smithsonian American Art. Included will be a a brief history of African American art and stories about the artists and their creative process. You will be encouraged to share your insights about this remarkable exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
This free event will also feature live performances by two Dubuque arts and cultural organizations, along with guided tours of the exhibition, refreshments, and hands-on art activities. The lineup and schedule includes:
-Performance by Dubuque’s Dreaming Allegiance: 1 p.m.
–Junior Famous Dead Artist Matinee: Renee Tyler performing as artist Elizabeth Catlett, 2:15 p.m. A glimpse into the life of African American artist Elizabeth Catlett who explored themes relating to race and social activism in her sculpture, paintings, and prints. Catlett was a student of Grant Wood and among the first MFA graduates from the University of Iowa, which recently named a dormitory hall in her honor.
-Performance by the Dubuque Dream Center Gospel Choir & Dance Troupe: 3 pm
The exhibition and Free Community Day are sponsored by American Trust & Savings Bank and their Junior Banker program. Additional support was provided by Runde Auto Group, which is sponsoring free admission to the DuMA on Saturday mornings during the Dubuque Winter Farmers’ Market.
African American Art in the 20th Century continues at DuMA through April 21, 2019.
Judy Richardson will give a featured talk sponsored by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque in conjunction with the Dubuque Museum of Art’s new exhibit, “African American Art in the 20th Century.”
Richardson was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, working on the staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and organizing a “freedom school” for young people to work together across racial lines to achieve equal rights for all Americans.
She was associate producer of the seminal PBS series “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement,” and with five other SNCC women activists, she edited “Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC,” an anthology of memoirs by 52 women civil rights activists.
Location: Roosevelt Middle School
Time: March 7, 2019 @ 6:30 pm (doors open at 6 PM)
Title: Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Little-Known Stories of the Civil Rights Movement
Summary: Ms. Richardson will highlight the stories of the lesser-known people of the civil Rights Movement — the “ordinary” people who were both courageous and strategically brilliant; they were both the foot soldiers and the leaders. Those like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, E.D. Nixon, and Amzie Moore, among others, provided the grounding and the guidance that allowed the Civil Rights Movement to flourish. These were the leaders who influenced us as young organizers in SNCC, the only national civil rights group founded and run by young people, such as Congressman John Lewis, then SNCC’s Chair.
In connection with the African American Art in the 20th Century exhibition from the Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, DuMA will be screening the visual art documentary Colored Frames.
Colored Frames is a 2007 documentary film taking a look at the role of fine art in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the legacy of discrimination in the art community both historically and contemporary. The documentary is a showcase of a wide variety of works primarily by African-American artists, and a discussion of modern sociopolitical topics focused on race, gender, and class. Running time: 60 minutes
The Maroons: Free People of Color in America
Maroons were Africans and their descendants in the Americas who formed settlements away from New World chattel slavery. Some had escaped from plantations, but others had always been free, like those born among them in freedom.
Part of the Dubuque Chapter NAACP Speakers Bureau Lunch & Learn Series. Free free to bring a sack lunch, however lunch will not be provided by the Museum.