Saturday: "Maryland Collects: Jacob Lawrence"

Sept. 9

Jacob Lawrence was a part of the first generation of children to experience life in the northern states following The Great Migration. Born in 1917 in New Jersey, Lawrence's formative years were spent in close proximity to the great artists who led the Harlem Renaissance. The demise of the Harlem Renaissance is a matter of personal opinion. Was it the Great Depression? Was it the race riots in 1935? Was it co-opted by white artists (because we can't have anything)? Was it the notion that the Harlem Renaissance didn't reflect the totality of the black experience? Was it rooted in elitism? Perhaps the peddlers served rotgut corn liquor labelled “Failure” to everyone involved. Whatever the case may have been, that time inspired Lawrence to study art. Under the tutelage of black painters, Lawrence would cultivate his own style, which he referred to as “dynamic cubism,” that used bright colors to depict the richness of black life at various points throughout history. At 21 years old, his series of paintings of Toussaint L'Ouverture was shown at the Baltimore Museum of Art. His "Migration" series, which feels like an autobiography, afforded him national acclaim, catapulting him into the conversation of being one of the best painters of his generation. An exhibition of about 50 Lawrence prints found in and around the state of Maryland will be on display to celebrate the profound impact of his life's work. On display through Jan. 7, 2018, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, 830 E. Pratt St., (443) 263-1800, lewismuseum.org, included with museum admission. (Reginald Thomas II)

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