A Woman to Know: Lois Mailou Jones
|Julia Carpenter||Aug 10, 2016|
Mine is a quiet exploration — a quest for new meanings in color. — Lois
(image via Wikimedia Commons)
Lois began her painting career as a fabric designer in the 1920s and ended it as a renowned art teacher of the 1990s, beloved by four decades of Howard University students and admired by an entire new cohort of black artists. Her work cuts a wide swath of styles and subjects — portraits in New York and landscapes in Europe and abstract experiments without place — all united by her exploration of color, both on the palette and in society.
In her artistic heyday of the 1940s and 1950s, Lois struggled for gallery recognition. She ended up selling many of her New York works herself, without a dealer to guide her. And while many of her later works now anchor museums and prominent collections, these other pieces are lost to time, maybe hanging in someone's Harlem home, maybe sold for a fraction of their worth — or maybe soon to be rediscovered by a new generation of art students.
This is my favorite of her paintings: "Jenny," 1943, a portrait of one of her Howard art students, making dinner.
Add to your reading list:
The Life and Art of Lois Mailou Jones (Tritobia Hayes Benjamin)
The Picture Poetry Book (Gertrude Parthenia Brown, illustrated by Lois Mailou Jones)
Lois Mailou Jones, 92, Painter and Teacher (The New York Times)
The Grande Dame of African American Art (Women's Art Journal)
Lois Mailou Jones: The Passion for Art (Howard University)
Lois Mailou Jones: Color tells a story (The Washington Post)
A 1920s Flowering that Didn't Disappear (The New York Times)
Lois Mailou Jones (American Art Museum)
A life in vibrant color (Dallas Art News)
Honoring Lois Mailou Jones, Artist and Trailblazer (Vineyard Gazette)
Lois Mailou Jones (National Museum of Women in the Arts)
An interview with Lois Mailou Jones (Callalloo)
Lois Mailou Jones (Black Past)
African American Art: Harlem Renaissance (Smithsonian American Art Museum)
Ode to Kinshasha (National Women's Museum)
Water Carriers (Mint Museum)