Media File
Loïs Mailou Jones
Date: American artist and teacher, 1905–1998
School: Harlem Renaissance
Biography: With a career spanning more than seven decades, African American painter and teacher Loïs Mailou Jones was a key figure in modern American art. Born in Boston and raised in Boston and Martha's Vineyard, Jones studied at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Design Art School. She had her first exhibition in Martha's Vineyard at age 17. She worked in design--including an apprenticeship in costume design with Grace Ripley--until the late 1920s, when she decided to focus on painting.

After teaching in a North Carolina prep school, she was recruited to join the faculty at Howard University in Washington, DC, where she served as a professor of watercolor painting and design until 1977. A regular visitor and sometimes summer resident of New York, Jones participated in the Harlem Renaissance, producing stylized, modern pictures that incorporated African motifs. In the late 1930s she began to paint in France. She adopted an impressionist style and became part of the "Little Paris Group," which included Jacob Lawrence and Alma Thomas.

In 1938 she had her first solo show at the Whyte Gallery in Washington, DC, and by the early 1940s she was exhibiting across the US and internationally. In 1954 she married Haitian artist Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noel and they took annual trips to Haiti, where she met local artists and taught art students. About 1960 her style evolved from an impressionist to a modern idiom in response to her experience in Haiti.