February celebrates Black History Month. This year we focus on African American visual artists who specialize in cartoons, murals, painting, photography, printmaking, quilting and sculpture. One artist from each genre will be highlighted.
Cartoonist Robert H. (Buck) Brown was born in 1936 in Tennessee. He is a cartoonist known for the first cartoon he sold, naughty Granny to Playboy Magazine. His cartoons were also featured in Jet, Ebony and Esquire Magazines. His work often portrayed the issues of Civil Rights struggles of African Americans. He is best known for his cartoons painted in acrylic colors.
Muralist William Walker was born in 1927 in Alabama. He is known for his work as a muralist in Chicago and founder of Organization for Black American Culture. He cofounded the Chicago Mural Group and participated in the Wall of Respect honoring African American heroes and starting a nationwide movement.
Painting is represented by Philadelphia’s own Laura Wheeler Waring who was born in 1887 in Connecticut. She is acclaimed as a portrait artist but was well-known for her still-life work as well. She lived and worked in Philadelphia. One of her favorite subjects to paint was another Philadelphian, Marian Anderson.
Photographer Jules T. Allen was born in San Francisco in 1946. His subjects are taken from Black life. His work has been seen on the cover of Black Enterprise, Forbes and Business Week magazines. His books include Hats and HatNots and Black Bodies.
Printmaker Robert Blackburn was born in1920 in New Jersey. In 1948 he established the Nonprofit Printmaking Workshop in New York to help others follow their passion of printmaking. His work, In Everything There is a Season, can be seen in the 116th Train Station in New York.
Quilter Harriet Powers was born in 1837 in Georgia. Her work is considered amongst the finest nineteenth century quilts. Her quilts pictured Bible stories, astronomical events and local legends. She used a traditional appliqués technique in making her quilts. Only two of her quilts survive today, Bible Quilt and Pictorial Quilt.
Sculptor Richmond Barthe’ was born in 1901 in Mississippi. He is known for his works of the Toussaint L’Ouverture Monument in Haiti and of the Broadway actress Rose McClendon for the Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater House in Pittsburg, PA.
This small group of African American artists represents the millions of Black artists in the various genres of art in the United States and around the world. Take the time this Black History Month to learn something new about African American culture and history.