Local Hero: Samella Lewis

KCET and Union Bank created a segment called “Local Heroes” for Black History Month in 2012. Dr. Samella Lewis was one of their heroes.

I love seeing videos like this about artists!


Dr. Samella Lewis – Painter, Printmaker, Art Historian

(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!