Lois Mailou Jones (1905-1998)
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Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Lois Mailour Jones was an African American painter, textile designer, teacher and illustrator. Jones started using watercolor when she was very young, and enjoyed painting scenes in Martha's Vineyard where her mother took her every summer. She graduated from School of the Museum of Art in Boston and later became the founder of the art department at Palmer Memorial Institute in North Carolina. Howard University in Washington D.C recruited her to join the art department. Jones earned her bachelor’s degree and other honorary degrees from Colorado State Christian University, Massachusetts College of Art, and Howard University. Despite facing racial prejudice in the textile design industry she continued to be recognized by international arts organizations such as the Royal Arts Society in London. In 1937, Jones went to Paris and produced a large collection of 35-40 art pieces in just one year. One of her best-known works, “Les Fetiches”, is from this time period and is owned by Smithsonian American Art Museum. After marrying Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noel, a Haitian artist, in 1953, they traveled and lived in Haiti which provided her with the inspiration for many Haitian and African themes and techniques. After 1970, they continued to travel throughout Africa, which can also be seen as an influence in her work. In 1980, Jones received an award for Outstanding Achievements in the Arts by President Jimmy Carter at the White House, and Bill and Hillary Clinton collected her art as well. Lois was proud of her contribution to the arts in respect to the black struggle for equality, but wished to be known for her art and not merely as a "black artist" or "woman artist."