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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Lois Mailou Jones (African American Artists at the MFA)

In this gallery, we examine paintings and drawings by Lois Mailou Jones, the distinguished, internationally acclaimed graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Born and raised in Boston, Jones attended the SMFA during high school and earned a scholarship that enabled her to receive her degree in Design with honors in 1927. In 1937, she took a sabbatical from her teaching job at Howard University and spent a year in Paris, where she attended the Académie Julian, frequented museums and galleries, and noted in an interview in the Women’s Art Journal that she was far freer as an African American woman in Paris than she was in the art world in the United States.

After her marriage to Haitian graphic artist Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noël in 1953, Jones found inspiration in the spiritual beliefs, sights, and sounds of Haiti. A trip to Africa in 1970 to meet with contemporary artists there brought to fruition Jones’s earlier interest in African art. This gallery presents works from every stage of Jones’s artistic career, beginning with her early copies after objects in the Museum’s collections, her teaching career at Howard University, and the travels that shaped her distinctive vision and contributions to American art.

In this gallery, we seek to examine both issues in the evolution of the artist's style as well as ways in which she develops her identity as woman, artist, and African American.

This gallery was designed in conjunction with the teacher workshop African American Artists at the MFA, which took place on February 13, 2013.



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