Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists

By Jontyle Theresa Robinson | Go to book overview
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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . JONTYLE THERESA ROBINSON
1619 African slaves, female and male, are brought to Jamestown, Virginia, aboard a Dutch ship. Three slave women are among the first group to arrive in America. Hundreds of thousands will join them. By 1860 slaves populate American states from Texas to Maine (including Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois). Among their ranks are artisans who mold, sew, dye, weave, quilt, paint, carve, smith, and print. These artisans will have a double heritage, one that recalls Africa and one that acknowledges their involuntary journey to America.
1806 Sarah Mapps Douglass, artist and teacher, is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1882).
1837 Harriet Powers, quiltmaker, is born a slave in Georgia (d. 1911).
ca. 1843 Mary Edmonia Lewis, sculptor, is born in Ohio or New York (d. after 1911).
1852 Sojourner Truth delivers her "Ain't I A Woman" address at the second National Women's Suffrage Convention in Akron, Ohio.
1855 Annie E. Anderson Walker, painter, is born in New York (d. 1929).

Anna Julia Cooper is born in Wake County, North Carolina, daughter of a slave mother and a white father. She authors ( 1892) the first feminist analysis of the condition of blacks and women (d. 1964).

1866 Sculptor Mary Edmonia Lewis creates The Freed Woman and Her Child.
1877 Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, sculptor, is born in Philadelphia (d. 1968).

May Howard Jackson, sculptor, is born in Philadelphia (d. 1931).

1881 Spelman College is founded in Atlanta, Georgia, by two Northern white missionary women, Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles.
1890 Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, sculptor, is born in Warrick, Rhode Island (d. 1960).
1891 Alma Thomas, artist, is born in Columbus, Georgia (d. 1978).
1892 Augusta Savage, sculptor, is born in Green Cove Springs, Florida (d. 1962).
1895 Atlanta hosts the Cotton States and International Exposition and though not officially listed as an exhibit, it is believed that Harriet Powers quilt The Creation of the Animals was part of the art exhibition.

Beulah Ecton Woodard, sculptor, is born in rural Ohio near Frankfort (d. 1955). Her onewoman exhibition of masks at the Los Angeles County Museum takes place September-October 1935.

1900 Nellie Mae Rowe, an Atlanta folk artist, is born (d. 1982). Selma Hortense Burke, sculptor, is born in Mooresville, North Carolina (d. 1995).
1905 Artist Lois Mailou Jones is born in Boston, Massachusetts.
1917 Margaret Taylor Burroughs, artist and arts activist, is born in St. Rose Parish, Louisiana.
1929 Archibald John Motley, Jr., is the first artist of any race to receive front page coverage in The New York Times (see The Art of Archibald John Motley, Jr. by Jontyle Theresa Robinson and Wendy Greenhouse, Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1991).
1932 Augusta Savage establishes the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in Harlem, New York.
1933 Nancy Elizabeth Prophet becomes an instructor of art at Atlanta University.
1934 Nancy Elizabeth Prophet joins the faculty of Spelman College. She introduces sculpture into the curriculum and remains on the faculty for a decade.
1937 Augusta Savage is appointed the first director of the Harlem Community Art Center.


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