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Jacob's Struggle

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Related Links/Info
  • The Jacob Lawrence Virtual Archive and Education Center

  •'s Jacob Lawrence listings

  • Kennedy Museum of Art

    Other Events
    Reception for "Jacob Lawrence" and "People of Color" exhibitions
    February 8, 7 p.m.
    Open to the Public

    Jacob Lawrence: A Panel Discussion
    March 13, 6 p.m.
    Join Ohio University Art, Art History and African American studies faculty members for a program highlighting the life and work of artist Jacob Lawrence.

    Family Programs
    The Kennedy Museum's "Art Encounters" program features Saturday workshops for children (grades 1-6) and families. These fun and informative workshops explore the current exhibitions "People of Color" and "Three Series of Prints by Jacob Lawrence" and include gallery discussions and hands-on activities that focus on preserving and recording personal histories and surroundings. Art Encounters workshops are free and open to the public; pre-registration is required. Class size is limited so reserve early! For registration and more information call (740) 593-0953.

  • Feb. 1 - People of Color family program with David Butcher and Alvin Adams
  • Feb. 8 - People of Color family program with David Butcher and Alvin Adams
  • Feb. 22 - Jacob Lawrence workshops with grades 1-3 and 4-6
  • March 8 - Jacob Lawrence workshops with grades 1-3 and 4-6


  • Febrary 6, 2003
    Jacob Lawrence exhibition premieres at the Kennedy Museum of Art
    By Karen Wyman

    The exhibition "Genesis, Hiroshima and Toussaint L'Ouverture: Three Series of Prints" by Jacob Lawrence premiered at the Kennedy Museum of Art on Feb. 1. Featured in this vibrant and evocative exhibition are 31 color prints and 13 text pages from the three series, produced between 1983 and 1997, by this renowned African American artist.
    Jacob Lawrence
    Toussaint L'Ouverture series, 1986-1997, Screenprint.

    Lent from the collection of Alitash Kebede, Los Angeles, Calif.

    Since his first published print in 1963, Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) produced a body of prints that is both highly dramatic and intensely personal.

    In his graphic work, as in his paintings, Lawrence turned to the lessons of history and to his own experience. From depictions of civil rights confrontations to scenes of daily life, these images present a vision of a common struggle toward unity and equality, a universal struggle deeply seated in the depths of the human consciousness.

    Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, passing his formative years in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. In the mid-1930s he took art classes sponsored by the College Art Association and the Works Projects Administration (WPA) at the Harlem Community Art Center. Following a two-year scholarship to the American Artists School, Lawrence worked in the easel division of the WPA Federal Art Project.

    In 1941, Lawrence became the first African American artist included in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where he had a one-man exhibition in 1944. He lived and worked in New York City, teaching at numerous schools until 1971, when he accepted a full-time faculty appointment at the University of Washington, Seattle, from which he retired as professor emeritus in 1983.

    Kennedy Museum curator Jennifer McLerran studied with Jacob Lawrence. "I was very fortunate to have had Jacob Lawrence as my first college art teacher," she says. "In fact, I was in the first course he taught at the University of Washington. While he produced very powerful social commentary that, at times, displays deep-seated anger and frustration with social conditions and forces, Lawrence was one of the kindest and gentlest individuals I have ever known. He served as a tireless mentor and model to a whole generation of African American artists and exerted a highly positive influence on all the young artists with whom he worked."

    Lawrence received numerous awards and honors, including the National Medal of Arts (1990), the NAACP Annual Great Black Artists Award (1988) and the Spingarn Medal (1970). His work has been the subject of numerous major retrospectives that have traveled nationally, originating at The Phillips Collection (2001-2003), the Seattle Art Museum (1986), the Whitney Museum of American Art (1974) and the Brooklyn Museum (1960).

    The Kennedy Museum of Art is the premiere exhibition venue for this national museum tour organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions of Los Angeles. Peter Nesbett, editor of Jacob Lawrence: The Complete Prints (1963-2000)/The Catalogue Raisonne and executive director of the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, is the exhibit's curator. The works are on loan from the collection of Alitash Kebede of Los Angeles. The College of Fine Arts and Beth K. Stocker provide additional funding for the Kennedy Museum venue.

    Lawrence's exhibition will be on view through March 30. Related public events include a reception on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. and a panel discussion with Ohio University art, art history and African American studies faculty on March 13 at 6 p.m. Three "Art Encounters" family workshops are scheduled for Feb. 8, Feb. 22 and March 8.

    Karen Wyman is the director of marketing and communications for the Kennedy Museum of Art and the College of Fine Arts.


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