LOIS MAILOU JONES Biography - Other artists & entretainers


Biography » other artists entretainers » lois mailou jones


Name: Lois Mailou Jones                                                                         
Born: 3 November 1905                                                                           
Died: 9 June 1998                                                                               
Lois Mailou Jones (November 3, 1905 - June 9, 1998) was an African American                     
Harlem Renaissance painter. Lois Mailou Jones, born in 1905 in Boston,                           
Massachusetts, had a very big impact on African American artists. She was an                     
internationally acclaimed black artist, which was uncommon then.                                 
She began her teaching career at Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina                     
while coaching a basketball team, teaching folk dancing, and playing the piano.                 
She also founded the art departments at Palmer Memorial Institute and Howard                     
University Washington D.C.                                                                       
Lois Mailou Jones allowed art to define her life. She produced many paintings in                 
her lifetime. Others described her as very talented because of all her                           
accomplishments. In 1980, she was honored by President Jimmy Carter for                         
outstanding art achievements.                                                                   
Dr. Jones is greatly remembered because she gave proof of the talent of black                   
artists. In her life she received honorary degrees from three universities and                   
has her work in seven different museums. Lois Mailou Jones was the first to                     
combine traditional African form with western techniques. Her impact as an early                 
African American artist will be greatly remembered.                                             
Dr. Jones began painting as a child. "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."                                                   
In 1927, she was awarded a diploma in Design with honors and went on to do                       
graduate studies at prestigious schools in the U.S. and France. She received her                 
bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1945, graduating magna cum laude,                   
and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Suffolk University in Boston.                   
She also has received honorary degrees from Colorado State Christian University,                 
Massachusetts College of Art, and Howard University and was elected Fellow of                   
The Royal Society of Arts in London.                                                             
In 1937, 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.               
"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."                                       
In 1996, Jones paintings were featured in an exhibition entitled "Paris, the                     
City of Light" that appeared at several museums throughout the county including                 
the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Studio Museum                   
of Harlem. The exhibition also featured the works of Barbara Chase-Riboud,                       
Edward Clark, Harold Cousins, Beauford Delaney, Herbert Gentry, and Larry Potter.               
The exhibition examined the importance of Paris as an artistic mecca for African-American       
artists during the 20 years that followed World War II.                                         
While developing her own work as an artist, Jones also spent many years teaching                 
and encouraging others. She began her teaching career at the Palmer Memorial                     
Institute in North Carolina making $1,000 a year, where she set up an entire art                 
department while coaching a basketball team, teaching folk dancing, and playing                 
piano for Sunday church services. She was asked to join the faculty at Howard                   
University in Washington, D.C. in 1930, where she became one of the founders of                 
the art department and remained as professor of design and watercolor painting                   
until her retirement in 1977.                                                                   
The exhibit will feature the four periods of Jones's art the American paintings,                 
the France paintings, the Haitian paintings, and the African paintings. Jones                   
traveled widely and studied and lived for periods of time in different parts of                 
the world which her paintings reflect. She has produced work that echoes her                     
pride in her African roots and American ancestry. She combines traditional                       
African forms with Western techniques and materials to create a vibrant and                     
compelling work in many of her pieces.                                                           
Married to 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             
In her nineties, Jones still paints. She feels that her greatest contribution to                 
the art world has been "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."