Loïs Mailou Jones: Painter overcame racial, gender prejudices

‘Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color’ exhibit

The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street in Laurel. Hours are 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Details: 649-6374 or visit http://www.LRMA.org.

THE Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is presenting “Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color” on display in the Lower Level and Stairwell Galleries through Nov. 6.

In a career lasting more than 70 years, Loïs Mailou Jones (1905-1998) overcame racial and gender prejudices to become a successful painter and designer whose influence as a teacher extended far beyond her native country.

“Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color” spans the artist’s career from the late Harlem Renaissance to her contemporary synthesis of African, Caribbean, American and African-American iconography.

Jones was raised in Boston, studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and then spent several years designing textiles in New York. She left in 1928 to take a teaching position at Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia, N.C.

At Palmer, a prep school for African-American students, Jones founded the art department, coached basketball, taught folk dancing and played piano for Sunday services. Two years later, she moved to Washington, D.C., to establish a career in painting and teach at Howard University, where she trained several generations of African-American artists.

She would teach at Howard for almost 50 years, becoming a mentor and influence on several generations of artists.

Jones was strongly affected by a sabbatical year in Paris from 1937 to 1938. After so much time in a segregated society, she felt exhilarated to be living in a country where her race seemed irrelevant. Equally important was her introduction to African tribal art, which was enormously popular in Parisian galleries.

At home, Jones began incorporating African motifs into her canvases. After her 1953 marriage to Haitian graphic designer Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noël, Jones became intrigued by the bright colors and bold patterns of the architecture, design and fine art she saw on annual trips to Haiti with her husband.

In the 1970s, Jones traveled extensively in Africa. She lectured, interviewed local artists, and visited museums in 11 countries. The experience led to further exploration of African subjects in Jones’s work, especially in her paintings executed between 1971 and 1989.

This exhibition is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi, Regions, Foil Wyatt Architects and Planners, Sanderson Farms, and

The Jean Chisholm Lindsey Exhibition Endowment Fund and is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color” is organized by the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, N.C., in collaboration with the Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noël Trust, and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.

For the original report go to http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/article/20110904/LIFESTYLE/109040303

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