Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jones, Lois Mailou

Mere du Senegal
acrylic on canvas
25 x 26 in.
location unknown
-Fair use-

"Mine is a quiet exploration - a quest for new meanings in color, texture and design. Even though I sometimes portray scenes of poor and struggling people, it is a great joy to paint." (Lois Mailou Jones)

Jones was an artist who existed during the Harlem Renaissance. She was very passionate about African and her culture. She created many paintings showing what life was like in the 1900s in Africa. This painting is titled, “Mere du Senegal” and depicts the African culture because it is very colorful and shows an everyday scene.

Lois Mailou jones (1905-1998) was born in Boston. Her father was the first African American to graduate from Boston's Suffolk Law School. After graduating the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, she began her career as a textile designer during a time when racial prejudices and gender discrimination encompassed American culture. Because textile designers remained anonymous, she decided to pursue a career in fine arts. She integrated the encounters and influences she had throughout her lifetime into her art. Producing figurative and narrative paintings, that explore both personal and social themes.

Her formal artistic career began in 1930 when she joined the faculty at Howard University in Washington, D.C.. The racial discrimination that she experienced in Boston and North Carolina, as well as the climate and aftermath of the Harlem Renaissance, motivated the depiction of African and African-American themes in her early paintings.

In 1937 she received a General Education Board Foreign Fellowship to study in France, and went to Paris where she studied painting at the Academie Julian, lived among the French, learned to speak French fluently, and painted views of Paris and surrounding areas. Since her first trip to France, she felt a spiritual affinity for the French people and their nation. She explains that France provided her with the first feeling of absolute freedom to live and eat wherever she chose.

In 1954, she first went to Haiti when the Haitian government invited her to visit and paint the country's landscape and its people. In that time, she developed a love for Haiti's warm climate, its beautiful scenery, and its colorful, deeply religious people. Her numerous oils and watercolors inspired by Haiti are probably her most widely known works. In them her affinity for bright colors, her understanding of Cubism's basic principles, and her search for a distinctly personal style reached an apogee.

Jones's return to African themes in her work of the past several decades coincided with the black expressionistic movement in the United States during the 1960s. Skillfully integrating aspects of African masks, figures, and textiles into her vibrant paintings, she continued to produce exciting new works at an astonishing rate of speed, even in her late eighties.

Her eclectic, academic work, in a career spanning nearly 70 years, ranged from impressionistic landscapes to political allegories, and from cubistic depictions of African sculptures to realistic portraits. In addition to being a prominent artist, she was also a noted educator of the arts, teaching painting and related subjects for 47 years at Howard University. Her work and passion for the arts inspired her students and several generations of African American artists.