Lois Mailou Jones (November 1905 – June 1998) is a ground breaking American artist, painter and educator. She was the very first African American to graduate from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. Her career spanned over seven decades and reflected various artistic styles inspired by her travels to Africa and abroad. She was a talented , brilliant, Black female artist that made major artistic and cultural contributions to the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Renaissance.
During her lifetime, Jones trained several generations of African American artists, including David Driskell, Alma Thomas and Elizabeth Catlett. Her career as an educator started soon after graduating from college. She left Boston when the Director at the Museum of Fine Arts refused to hire her, telling her to find a job in the South where, “her people lived.” She persisted and was eventually recruited by Howard University in Washington, D.C. to join its art department where she remained until she retired from academia in 1977. It was here that she began earning recognition for the content and technique of her own art.
Her work is now on display in museums all over the world. Permanent collections are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York City, The Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury, The National Palace in Haiti, as well as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.
Lois Mailou Jones overcame racial and gender prejudices to become a successful and influential painter, designer, and educator with a brilliant career that spanned more than 70 years. She Made History, today we honor Her Story.
Links to Learn:
Loïs Mailou Jones – Smithsonian American Art Museum
Loïs Mailou Jones – National Museum of Women in the Arts