Women Artists of the Harlem Renaissance

Women Artists of the Harlem Renaissance

Edited by Amy Helene Kirschke
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zwf2h
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  • Book Info
    Women Artists of the Harlem Renaissance
    Book Description:

    Women artists of the Harlem Renaissance dealt with issues that were unique to both their gender and their race. They experienced racial prejudice, which limited their ability to obtain training and to be taken seriously as working artists. They also encountered prevailing sexism, often an even more serious barrier.

    Including seventy-two black and white illustrations, this book chronicles the challenges of women artists, who are in some cases unknown to the general public, and places their achievements in the artistic and cultural context of early twentieth-century America. Contributors to this first book on the women artists of the Harlem Renaissance proclaim the legacy of Edmonia Lewis, Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, Augusta Savage, Selma Burke, Elizabeth Prophet, Lois Maillou Jones, Elizabeth Catlett, and many other painters, sculptors, and printmakers.

    In a time of more rigid gender roles, women artists faced the added struggle of raising families and attempting to gain support and encouragement from their often-reluctant spouses in order to pursue their art. They also confronted the challenge of convincing their fellow male artists that they, too, should be seen as important contributors to the artistic innovation of the era.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-048-8
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xi-2)

    Throughout his life, W. E. B. Du Bois passionately discussed the double consciousness, the veil that African Americans peered through, an identity that David Levering Lewis has described as “spun out between the poles of two distinct racial groups—black and white—and two dissimilar social classes—lower and upper—to form the double consciousness of being.”¹ This theme appeared throughout Du Bois’sSouls of Black Folk, published in 1903. African American women experienced this double consciousness even more profoundly than did African American men.

    Du Bois considered the visual arts to be a significant part of the development of...

  5. CHAPTER ONE HARLEM AND THE RENAISSANCE: 1920–1940
    (pp. 3-21)
    Cary D. Wintz

    What was the Harlem Renaissance and when did it begin? This seemingly simple question reveals the complexities of the movement we know varyingly as the New Negro Renaissance, the New Negro movement, the Negro Renaissance, the Jazz Age, or the Harlem Renaissance. To answer the question it is necessary to place the movement within time and space, and then to define its nature. This task is much more complex than it might seem.

    Traditionally the Harlem Renaissance was viewed primarily as a literary movement centered in Harlem and growing out of the black migration and the emergence of Harlem as...

  6. CHAPTER TWO LIFTING AS SHE CLIMBED: MARY EDMONIA LEWIS, REPRESENTING AND REPRESENTATIVE
    (pp. 22-52)
    Kirsten Pai Buick

    Precedent and expediency allowed Mary Edmonia Lewis to forge a successful career as a sculptor, and her racial identity helped as much as hindered her in the pursuit. Her persistence and example proved of long-lasting importance to other artists of African American and Native American descent who were bolstered by her story. This essay chronicles Lewis’s early life and the very beginning of her career as an artist before her expatriation to Rome. Prior to her voyage to Europe, Lewis studied, trained, and practiced in three of the most important centers for education and art culture. Oberlin College trained her...

  7. CHAPTER THREE META WARRICK FULLER’S ETHIOPIA AND THE AMERICA’S MAKING EXPOSITION OF 1921
    (pp. 53-84)
    Renée Ater

    Meta Warrick Fuller (1877–1968) createdEthiopiafor the America’s Making Exposition, a 1921 fair that focused on the contributions of immigrants to American society (fig. 3.1). This festival and accompanying pageants were held at the Seventy-First Regiment Armory at Thirty-Fourth Street and Park Avenue from October 29 to November 12. James Weldon Johnson, field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and an organizer of the exposition’s “Americans of Negro Lineage” section, commissioned Fuller to sculpt an allegorical figure of Ethiopia for this event. “They had an idea all cut and dried that they...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR LAURA WHEELER WARING AND THE WOMEN ILLUSTRATORS OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE
    (pp. 85-114)
    Amy Helene Kirschke

    The Harlem Renaissance era offered unprecedented opportunities for women artists, and the new African American magazines of the time were the best prospect for women to publish their work. TheCrisismagazine, founded by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910, andOpportunity Magazine, founded by the Urban League in 1923, were the two largest national journals where African American women were employed as freelance illustrators. TheCrisiswould become the journal most open to women illustrators, largely due to its founding editor, W. E. B. Du Bois. WhileOpportunityalso employed women illustrators, it...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE MAY HOWARD JACKSON, BEULAH ECTON WOODARD, AND SELMA BURKE
    (pp. 115-156)
    Lisa E. Farrington

    Often treated tangentially in discussions of the Harlem Renaissance, May Howard Jackson, Beulah Ecton Woodard, and Selma Burke are, in fact, uniquely representative of theweltzensangof the Jazz Age. Through their art, they embraced and exalted black beauty; they dedicated themselves to the Lockean tenet of “plastic” excellence, in the tradition of the best African sacred sculptors; and they were each exemplars of the Du Boisean “Talented Tenth”—sophisticated, well educated, affluent, and intellectual.¹ Like several women artists of the Renaissance, Woodard operated on the West Coast outside of the New York hub. Burke spent most of her life...

  10. CHAPTER SIX MODERN DANCERS AND AFRICAN AMAZONS: AUGUSTA SAVAGE’S DARING SCULPTURES OF WOMEN, 1929–1930
    (pp. 157-174)
    Theresa Leininger-Miller

    Like many African Americans who had traveled to and settled in France since the 1840s, Augusta Savage (1892–1962) (fig. 6.1) was drawn to Paris for multiple reasons—the chance to study at renowned academies, to exhibit at prestigious shows, to view masterpieces firsthand in museums and galleries, to be part of an international black community, and to experience relative freedom and racial tolerance.¹ In the 1920s, additional factors increased this attraction to the City of Lights—less expensive transatlantic travel, increased fellowship opportunities, a burgeoning economy, the presence of expatriate African Americans who had fought in World War I,...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN THE WIDE-RANGING SIGNIFICANCE OF LOÏS MAILOU JONES
    (pp. 175-204)
    Susan Earle

    Loïs Mailou Jones looms large in the pantheon of artists whose roots are traced to the Harlem Renaissance. Her vision and accomplishments placed her in a special position, as did her innovative approach and her range of artistic talents—even if she rarely received proper recognition, especially early on. In the face of the inherent challenge to obtain an education and be able to work as an African American, and a woman, in an often hostile, white-dominated world, Loïs Jones remained unflinching and undeterred; she was deeply motivated to create and to make art, starting at a young age. Her...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT ELIZABETH CATLETT: INHERITING THE LEGACY
    (pp. 205-238)
    Melanie Anne Herzog

    In 1926, Langston Hughes wrote that “within the next decade I expect to see the work of a growing school of colored artists who paint and model the beauty of dark faces and create with new technique the expressions of their own soul-world.”¹ The art of Elizabeth Catlett (April 15, 1915–April 2, 2012), the most renowned African American woman artist of the generation that emerged from the Harlem Renaissance, embodies Hughes’s foretelling. For more than sixty years, working in the United States and in Mexico, Catlett continued to illumine “the beauty of dark faces” in eloquent and impassioned visual...

  13. List of Contributors
    (pp. 239-242)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 243-251)