Dr. Samella Lewis – Painter, Printmaker, Art Historian

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(l to r) 1. Dr. Samella Lewis; 2. I See You, linocut print, 2005; 3. Field, linocut print, 1968; 4. Interior, hand colored lithograph, 1997; 5. Field Hand (Girl), acrylic on paper, 1949; 6. book cover, Samella Lewis and the African American Experience, 2012; 7. Double Vision, pen and ink on paper, 1960

Happy New Year! May this new cycle provide you with everything you need and deserve! 

I couldn’t think of a more fitting artist to feature today than Dr. Samella Lewis. Lewis is one of my major inspirations simply because she has dedicated her life to creating and preserving black art. She has completed five films and seven books about the African American artistic experience. Furthermore, she founded the International Review of African American Art  in 1975 and the Museum of African American Arts in 1976. The publication and museum are still active.

Lewis’ own body of art work is substantial. Working primarily as a printmaker and painter, her work is poignant, colorful and at times solemn. Her figures all possess an introspective gaze that pulls the viewer deeper into the piece. And those lines!!! Lewis’ lines sweep across the canvas, building up texture. The style of her work has varied throughout the years but the way she captures the human figure is unique. 

She is a master teacher and her accomplishments are nothing short of legendary. There is a fantastic book about her called, Samella Lewis and the African American Experience. I recommend this book to anyone interested in more information about Lewis and her lust-worthy art collection. 

With Dr. Lewis’s work in mind, let’s make this new year creative, fun, and above all {DOPE}! Happy New Year!

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Chester Higgins Jr. – Photographer

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(l to r) 1. Door of No Return, Senegal, 1972; 2. Moslem Woman, New York City, 1990; 3. Amiri Baraka & Maya Angelou Dance; 4. Senegal, 1975; 5. Candomble Priestess, Brazil

Anyone who knows me knows I adore books, especially books about art. Last year, Half Price Books held a wonderful warehouse clearance where I picked up a real gem. It was a book called, Feeling The Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa, by Chester Higgins Jr. Imagine my giddiness when I went home and realized this book contained page after page of exquisite photography.

Higgins’ work is a gorgeous oxymoron in that it possesses coolness and warmth. Each image exudes a peace that not only attest to the beauty of the subject but also to the magic of the artist. He is easily one of my all time favorite photographers, right up there with Roy DeCarava. For over 38 years, Higgins captured the beauty, love, and spiritual essence of the African Diaspora for The New York Times. Earlier this month, he announced his retirement from the paper, leaving behind hundreds of photos and an invaluable legacy.

For more information about the man and his art, check out his website, http://www.chesterhiggins.com/.