Maxine E. Davis
Jacob Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He studied at the Art Workshop, Harlem, under Charles Alston and Henry Bannan. He also, studied at the Harlem Art Center and American Artists School from l937-39.
Like many other artists of social protest in the thirties and forties, Lawrence began his career in a settlement house art class and was supported by the Depression-born W.P.A. in his early years. According to author David Driskell, “Jacob Lawrence has looked at history with the discerning eye of a sensitive critic. He has recorded a visual record which touches upon our national and ancestral interests.
It is obviously noticeable that his paintings contain some of the visual symbols associated with man’s protest against the intolerable conditions that often beset him, but they also present to us a segment of reality which ties our lives to history that is reflected in the immediate drama of everyday living. This is the reason why his style in art cannot be crammed into the usual bag of modern “isms”. Thus, he distinguishes himself as an artist who is highly sensitive to the conditions of life that face all mankind.”
One cannot fully understand his or her past, nor control his/her future, without knowing something about his/her past. A large number of my students are not aware of outstanding contributions to American Art made by African-Americans. The following lessons are designed to expose them to artistic and cultural expressions among artists, to expand their knowledge, and to help develop positive self-esteem.