Jacob Lawrence’s American Struggle

In March, the Seattle Art Museum will host a timely exhibition, Jacob Lawrence:  The American Struggle. Best known for his work The Migration Series, Lawrence set his sight on the American Revolution creating a series of 30 painted panels between 1954 and 1956, focusing on historical events occurring from 1775 to 1817. It is interesting to note that Lawrence developed this series during another time of struggle and strife in the country, the Civil Rights era.

The Seattle Art Museum’s show will reunite these works for the first time since 1958.

For some artists, their work is to create visual narratives. Through their work they provide their singular perspective on historical events. Such is the work of Jacob Lawrence. Lawrence brings us to key moments of a history centuries away that, yet, links to the present.

Today, One Mighty and Irresistible Tide of history sweeps over the nation. As you are well aware, we have been visited upon by multiple, simultaneous struggles that have swept us up Against Wind and Tide of forces unforeseen in our lifetime. Continue reading “Jacob Lawrence’s American Struggle”

Stay at home and be inspired with the Seattle Art Museum

Stay Home with Seattle Art Museum
With the closure of arts institutions to the public due to the outbreak, many museums and galleries are digitizing their content to be viewed online. The Seattle Art Museum is just one museum making their collection accessible and engaging, despite not being able to view art in person.

Georgia O'Keeffe's Music Pink and Blue No.1, image courtesy of Seattle Art MuseumThe SAM blog has articles, videos, and activities to keep you involved in the viewing, learning about, and appreciation of art. One example is of the Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstract Variations exhibit that is currently on display that has been converted to a sort of online gallery that can be viewed on a computer, tablet, or phone. O’Keeffe’s abstract sketches and paintings can be looked at up close without having to worry about crossing any lines or being warned by a security guard.  This post also suggests an abstract art project to understand O’Keeffe’s process and style and encourages people to share the art they make at home on social media to foster a creative and artistic community.  The blog is regularly updated so there is always something new to learn about or explore. Continue reading “Stay at home and be inspired with the Seattle Art Museum”

#BookBingoNW2017: Art and Artists

What is art, anyway? Merriam-Webster defines it as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” With such a broad definition, there are many different directions readers can go with this particular Book Bingo square. Here are a few strategies for filling this square:

Fiction

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A few authors, such as Tracy Chevalier, Susan Vreeland and Irving Stone, have made a name for themselves writing historical fiction about art & artists. Titles like Girl With a Pearl Earring, Girl in Hyacinth Blue and The Agony and the Ecstasy are some of the more famous titles in this genre. However there are hundreds of great fiction titles about art and artists – some well-reviewed recent titles include A Piece of the World, The Goldfinch, The Blazing World and The Blue Guitar. Find more fiction about art and artists in the Library’s collection by using the subject headings “Art—Fiction” and “Artists–Fiction

Biography/Memoir

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Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2017: Art and Artists”

Where I’m Bound: African Americans and Migration in Art and Life

Click here to view Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series in the SPL catalogIt began with a poem! Reading the Langston Hughes poem One-Way Ticket inspired Jacob Lawrence to make a sketch of a train station waiting room filled with travelers, travelers like the ones seeking The Warmth of Other Suns. As a boy who became an artist, he knew about traveling. Lawrence moved from city to city and house to house until his mother, finally, found a place in Harlem for them to call home.

I was part of the migration,“ he says “as was my family… I was only
about 10, 11, or 12. I didn’t realize that we were even a part of that….I didn’t
realize what was happening until the middle of the 1930s, and that’s
when the Migration series began to take form in my mind.” 

In 1941, at the age of 23, Lawrence began painting works in a series that would become known as The Migration Series. Bookended by World War I and World War II, the work portrays an exodus, at once sweeping and, yet, singular in its focus. Long before his wet brush met a dry canvas, Lawrence had steeped himself in the works of writers and intellectuals focused on the Black migration and the role of the artist in art and culture. Where did he do so? At the library! The New York Public Library’s Division of Negro History, Literature and Prints, now known as The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, was instrumental in the artist’s development and formation of the work.  Continue reading “Where I’m Bound: African Americans and Migration in Art and Life”

Kehinde Wiley: A Richer Republic

Click here to view Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic in the SPL catalogThere they are, in dramatic pose, embellished by a florid, heavily patterned background.  Commanding your view, a delicious mix of vibrant color, dramatic flair, dare and mystery.  Just who are these people, anyway? What did they do to warrant a place on the world stage?  Not only that, they have assumed the pose of a historic figure, have stepped, you might say, mightily into the very shoes of history.

They are the chosen ones.  Strangers who were stopped on a Harlem street and invited to be photographed.  He shows them his previous work.  He pulls out books with examples of paintings anywhere from the 16th to the 19th century that are inspiration for this work. See that pose? That one, this one.  Which pose resonates with you? Now, arrange your body to mirror it. Continue reading “Kehinde Wiley: A Richer Republic”