Horace Pippin (1888 – 1946) was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania. As a small child, he moved with his family to Goshen, New York. Born just 23 years after emancipation and the civil war, his grandparents were enslaved. His parents were domestic workers. Pippin was a self taught artist whose only formal training was a few art classes that he took as an adult. Early in life, he developed a love for art and creative expression. In fact, Pippin would “illustrate” his spelling words. The family did not have the financial resources to buy art supplies. When he was 10 years old, Pippin won a box of crayons as part of an art contest. Though he was limited in terms of having art materials, his talent was recognized within his community. Due to his mother’s poor health, he left school at age 15 to work and support his family. He worked various jobs including, being employed on a farm, working as a hotel porter, and in a factory.
Chakaia Booker (1953 – ) is a visual artist whose art focuses on ecological concerns, racial issues, economics, global issues, and gender. Booker’s artwork using tires also represent issues related to consumerism and environmental concerns. Her works of art are often developed by recycling discarded rubber tires into complex statement pieces. She also recycles other found objects and materials into works of art as well. She began using discarded tire and construction materials in the early 1990’s. Booker views tires, in particular, as being a versatile art medium. Her works of art are displayed both in indoor and outdoor settings. Her sculptures can sell for up to $300,000 each. Continue reading “Visual Artist Chakaia Booker: Transforming Rubber Into Works of Art”→
Artist Annie Frances Lee (1935-2014) was born in Gadsen, Alabama and grew up in Chicago, IL. She began painting as a young girl and won her first art competition at age 10. Lee was offered a four year scholarship to Northwestern University after high school. However, she married instead and began to raise a family. Tragedy struck Lee with the death of her 1st and 2nd husbands with whom she had 2 children; a daughter and a son respectively. It would not be until age 40 that she would begin to pursue a career as an artist. Lee took night classes for 8 years to earn her masters degree in Interdisciplinary Arts Education from Loyola University. She also worked full time at Northwestern Railroad while going to school. Her employment with Northwestern Railroad inspired one of her most popular paintings, Blue Monday. The painting features a woman struggling to get out of bed on a Monday morning. Lee described Blue Monday as her “self portrait’.
Lee held her first gallery show in 1985 at age 50. The show was highly successful for Lee and she sold all her available pieces at the show within 4 hours. In addition to artwork, Lee also had some of her most popular paintings produced as figurines, dolls, and housewares. A hallmark of Lee’s artistic style, was that faces in her artwork were painted without features. Following the death of her son in 1986, Lee decided to pursue an art career full time. She eventually opened her own gallery, “Annie Lee and Friends Gallery”. Her own artwork as well as the artwork of friends was displayed there. Several of her paintings were part of the sets for popular shows and films such as 227, Coming To America and A Different World. The appearance of her work on these shows greatly increased her exposure. Lee died in Las Vegas on November 14, 2014 at the age of 79.