Friday, January 3, 2014

January Monthly Challenge

Textile Design for Cretonne, 1928? 
by Lois Mailou Jones
Tempera on Paper

About the Art
Lois Mailou Jones would return summer after summer to paint on the Vineyard. In Boston, Lois Jones’ mother was a beautician and had a beauty shop with a friend. One of her private customers, Mrs. Gibson, lived in Vineyard Haven. She wrote, “Mrs. Gibson discovered that I was talented and she said I must come and paint in her garden. She had a wonderful set of Japanese books of handpainted flowers. That is very important in my career because she said, “Let Lois come over and paint in my garden and then she can borrow these books.”
“I used those flowers for my cretonne designs and those cretonne designs were printed and sold all over the country, as far as California. It was all going back to Mrs. Gibson who lived in Vineyard Haven.” These early textile designs are a testament to Jones’ exceptional versatility as an artist. Interestingly enough it was these textile designs that eventually launched her into a fine art career.

About the Artist

Lois Mailou Jones (November 3, 1905 – June 9, 1998) was a prize winning artist who lived into her nineties and who painted and influenced others during the Harlem Renaissance and beyond during her long teaching career. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts and is buried on her beloved Martha’s Vineyard in the Oak Bluffs Cemetery.

Dr. Jones began painting as a child and had shows of her work when she was in high school. “Every summer of my childhood, my mother took me and my brother to Martha’s Vineyard island. I began painting in watercolor which even today is my pet medium.”

After graduation from the School of the Museum of Art in Boston, she designed textiles until a decorator told her–”You couldn’t have done this, you’re a colored girl.” She began looking for a way for her name to become known and was turned down for a job at her alma mater. She was hired by Charlotte Hawkins Brown after some initial reservations and founded the art department at Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina. As a prep school teacher, she coached a basketball team, taught folk dancing, and played the piano for church services. Only one year later, she was recruited to join the art department at Howard University in Washington D.C and remained as professor of design and watercolor painting until her retirement in 1977. While developing her own work as an artist, she is also known as an outstanding mentor.

In 1937, for her first sabbatical from Howard University on a general educational fellowship, she went to Paris for the first time where she worked very hard producing 35 to 40 pieces during one year’s time, including “Les Fetiches” a stunning, African inspired oil which is owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum [1] and one of her best known works and her first piece which combined traditional African forms with Western techniques and materials to create a vibrant and compelling work.

“The French were so inspiring. The people would stand and watch me and say ‘mademoiselle, you are so very talented. You are so wonderful.’ In other words, the color of my skin didn’t matter in Paris and that was one of the main reasons why I think I was encouraged and began to really think I was talented.”

After marrying Haitian artist Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noel in 1953, Jones traveled and lived in Haiti. In many of her pieces one can see the influence of the Haitian culture, with its African influences, which reinvigorated the way she looked at the world. Her work became more abstract and hard-edged, after her marriage to Pierre-Noel. Her impressionist techniques gave way to a spirited, richly patterned, and brilliantly colored style. Further travels to eleven African countries enabled Jones to synthesize a body of designs and motifs that she combined in large, complex compositions.

In 1980, she was honored by President Jimmy Carter at the White House for outstanding achievements in the arts. Her paintings grace the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Museum of American Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Portrait Gallery, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the National Palace in Haiti, and the National Museum of Afro-American Artists and many others.

Lois felt that her greatest contribution to the art world was “proof of the talent of black artists.” The African-American artist is important in the history of art and I have demonstrated it by working and painting here and all over the world.” But her fondest wish was to be known as an “artist” — without labels like black artist, or woman artist. She has produced work that echoes her pride in her African roots and American ancestry.

Our Sponsors
Our Sponsors this month are Mona's Lampwork and Creative Impressions In Clay.
Please visit us tomorrow to see the prizes!

Monthly Challenge Recap
• Please post at least one single shot of your creation in the Flickr pool. This will be used to make a collage for the Monthly Challenge Gallery. Every creation will be added to the collage, regardless of a blog post. So everyone gets included!
 Be sure to share with us the name of the art bead artist in the description of your photo so that if you are selected for the weekly Perfect Pairings on Mondays, both you as the designer and the art bead artist can get the credit you both deserve!
 An InLinkz button will be added to the bottom of the Monthly Challenge Recap post. Here you will be able to link up your blog post if you have one. It is no longer necessary to add your blog post URL to the description unless you want to. Be sure to hop around and see all the great inspiration and leave some comment love!
 The Monthly Challenge Recap with Blog Tour will be posted on January 31st.

Monthly Challenge Winners
 One prize winner will be selected at random from all pictures posted on the Flickr pool.
 One prize winner will be selected at random from all blog posts added to the hop for the Monthly Challenge Recap post. So if you want to be in the pool for the second prize, be sure to use the InLinkz code at the bottom of the post to share your process and inspirations!
 Winners will be randomly chosen from all the qualifying entries on February 1st.

Perfect Pairings :: Designer + Art Bead Artist
 Formerly the Featured Designer of the Week, our new Perfect Pairings will now focus on both the jewelry designer and the art bead artist. Be sure to point out all the art bead artists in your work in the description of the photo in the Flickr pool. Links to their website or shop are appreciated. That way we can all find new art beads to love!
 From all the entries during the month, an editor will pick their favorite design to be featured every Monday here on ABS, so get those entries in soon.

How to enter the Monthly Challenge:
1. Create something using an art bead that fits within our monthly theme. We post the art to be used as your inspiration to create. This challenge is open to jewelry-makers, fiber artists, collage artist, etc. The art bead can be created by you or someone else. The challenge is to inspire those who use art beads and to see all the different ways art beads can be incorporated into your handiwork. 
An Art Bead must be used in your piece to qualify for the monthly challenge.
***Beads strung on a chain, by themselves and beads simply added to wire or cord will not be accepted.***

2. Upload your photo to our flickr group. Detailed instructions can be found here and click here for a tutorial for sending your picture to the group.
Please add the tag or title JAN ABS to your photos. Include a short description, who created the art beads and a link to your blog, if you have one.
Deadline is January 31stPhotos are approved by our moderators, if a photo hasn't followed the guidelines it will not be approved. You may upload 2 photos a day.

What is an Art Bead?
An art bead is a bead, charm, button or finding made by an independent artist. Art beads are the vision and handiwork of an individual artist. You can read more about art beads here.

***A bead that is handmade is not necessarily an art bead. Hill Tribe Silver, Kazuri ceramic beads or lampwork beads made in factories are examples of handmade beads that are not considered art beads.
Beaded beads, stamped metal pendants or wire-wrapped components are not considered art beads for our challenge.***

p.s. If you have a blog, post your entry and a link to the ABS challenge to spread the beady goodness.


Sharyl said...

What an inspiring biography! Thanks for including this, Tari!

I love the art piece selected this month! It intrigued me so much I made several batches of beads with leaf themes and colors found in the art, and just blogged about how ABS inspires me! Hope it's not too tacky to share that here with my thanks! --Sharyl

Jill Palumbo said...

Beautiful challenge!!! Thank you ABS!
I'm finally finished with my entry.

Unknown said...

Thank you for celebrating Lois Maillou Jones one of our finest artists. The history of fine art and its appreciation at historically black colleges and universities (hbcu) goes woefully unrecognized. She lead a life filled with wonder,color and adventure and it translated well into her work. This was a great post to read on a 9 degree Sunday morning in Pittsburgh!

Unknown said...

Thank you for celebrating Lois Maillou Jones one of our finest artists. The history of fine art and its appreciation at historically black colleges and universities (hbcu) goes woefully unrecognized. She lead a life filled with wonder,color and adventure and it translated well into her work. This was a great post to read on a 9 degree Sunday morning in Pittsburgh!

Empty nester at last said...

Posted and submitted my blog info the picture...very colorful!

Janine said...

I think I'm not that clever as I do not understand that bit about the Inlinkz thing.

This is the first time I participate in the monthly challenge. And the textile design was a challenge. But a lovely one. Managed to create two pieces.
You can find my blog post here: