Jacob Lawrence

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Jacob Lawrence has painted figurative and narrative pictures of the black community and black history for more than 60 years in a consistent modernist style, using expressive, strong design and flat areas of color. Jacob Lawrence was a great artist. During Harlem Renaissance, he helped establish African American artists. He gave lectures at Washington University, and he enjoyed working with students of all ages. Jacob Lawrence was born in Atlantic City on September 7, 1917. His parents Jacob Armstead Lawrence and Rose Lee were part of the Great Migration of Black Americans (1916-1930). One million people left the rural South for the urban North during this period. He moved with his family for Easton, Pennsylvania. After his parents separated, he moved with his mother to Philadelphia. In 1927, his mother moved to New York and placed Lawrence and his siblings in foster homes. In 1930, Lawrence, age 13, and his brother and sister moved to Harlem to live with his mother. During Lawrence's childhood, his family was forced to relocate many times as his parents looked for work. Steady jobs were hard to find, especially for African Americans. Racial prejudice prevented them from pursuing certain jobs or professions. Harlem was a crowded, teeming place, and the public school Lawrence attended was considered among the roughest in the area. But Harlem in the 1930s was also the center of what became known as the Harlem Renaissance. To keep her son out of trouble Rose Lawrence enrolled him in an after-school arts and crafts program at a local community center. It was taught by a young African American artist named Charles Alston. Alston liked the serious, quiet Lawrence and made sure he had lots of materials for his efforts. He found that drawing geometric designs in bright colors satisfied him greatly. He soon moved on to elaborate patterns and developed his own method of painting in which particular shapes were rendered in corresponding...
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