Name: Jacob Lawrence
Born: September 7, 1917 – June 9, 2000, Atlantic City (US)
Creative Discipline: Artist
Married to: Fellow Artist, Gwendolyn Knight
Known for: Jacob referred to his own style as "dynamic cubism". Though he stated that the primary influence was not so much French art, as the shapes and colours of Harlem. It was his "Migration Series" that made him nationally famous. The series depicted the epic Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North.
Jacob Lawrence was born in 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and died in 2000 in Seattle, Washington. He was thirteen when he moved with his sister and brother to New York City. His mother enrolled him in classes at an arts and crafts settlement house in Harlem, in an effort to keep him busy. The young Lawrence often drew patterns with crayons. Although much of his work copied his mother's carpets, an art teacher there noted great potential in Lawrence.
After dropping out of school at sixteen, Lawrence worked in a laundry and a printing plant. More importantly, he attended classes at the Harlem Art Workshop, taught by the African American artist Charles Alston. Alston urged him to also attend the Harlem Community Art Center, led by the sculptor Augusta Savage. Savage was able to secure Lawrence a scholarship to the American Artists School and a paid position with the Works Progress Administration, which is where his professional career began.
Throughout his lengthy artistic career, Lawrence concentrated on depicting the history and struggles of African Americans.
Today, his legacy continues as The Seattle Art Museum offers the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship, a $10,000 award to "individuals whose original work reflects the Lawrences' concern for artistic excellence, education, mentorship and scholarship within the cultural contexts and value systems that informed their work and the work of other artists of colour."
Article by Lucy G / 2nd October 2012
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