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Retrospective Highlights Harlem Renaissance

WASHINGTON  -- The National Museum of Women in the Arts announces Lois Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color, the first major retrospective surveying Jones' diverse subjects and styles, on view October 9, 2010, through January 9, 2011.

The exhibition of more than 70 works begins with the sketches and designs Lois Mailou Jones (1905-1998) created during the Harlem Renaissance. After graduating in 1927 from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Jones began her career as a textile designer. She sold her bold fabric creations to department stores until a decorator told her that a colored girl wasn't capable of producing such beautiful designs. This incident prompted Jones to shift her focus to the fine arts so she could sign her works.

During a brief teaching stint at Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina, Jones created several paintings that marked her transition from design to fine art. The paintings Negro Shack 1, Sedalia, North Carolina (1930) and Brother Brown (1931) demonstrate her early paintings' regionalist character.

Jones' influences were extensive throughout her career. As a student in Paris in the late 1930s, she painted nudes, city scenes, the French countryside, and traditional still lifes. After returning to the states her works conveyed the social struggles of African-Americans through powerful psychological portraits such as Jennie (1943) and Mob Victim (1945).

Her marriage in 1952 to noted Haitian graphic artist Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noel instigated a change in her paintings' subject matter and palette. Jones' frequent trips to Haiti re-energized her strong design sense and inspired vivid acrylic and watercolor paintings. After additional travels to African countries, her work became characterized by brilliant color, rich patterns and a variety of African motifs.

In addition to her outstanding accomplishments as an artist, Jones was also a noted educator at Howard University inWashington, D.C. for 47 years. Among her illustrious students are David DriskellElizabeth Catlett and Robert FreemanLois Mailou Jones continued to create her vibrant paintings until her death in 1998.

A Life in Vibrant Color is organized by the Mint Museum of Art in collaboration with the Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust, and toured by International Arts & Artists. Lead support provided by Walmart with additional support from Lois Lehrman Grass, National Endowment for the Arts, Verizon, and ESSENCE.



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