Lois Mailou Jones

Lois Mailou Jones was born in Boston in 1905, the second of two children of Thomas Vreeland and Caroline Dorinda Jones.  As a child, she spent time on Martha’s Vineyard with her family. It was there that Jones painted landscapes and scenes in watercolors depicting the island she knew so well.

In 1937, Jones began her studies at the Academie Julian in France. Upon her return to the United States, Jones earned a bachelor’s degree fromHoward University in 1945. France was a place of inspiration to Jones, so much so that she returned to France annually for nearly 20 years. She also traveled to several countries in Africa. Yet it was her travels to Haiti that attracted her to the bright colors and complex patterns that would become a part of Jones’ artwork. In 153, Jones married Louis Verginaud Pierre-Noel, a Haitian artist. The two lived in Haiti, which further deepened Jones’ resolve to blend African and Haitian cultural references into her artwork.

Jones was fond of using watercolors and oils in most of her paintings. She also incorporated Cubism into her most famous works.  Of her approach to her art, Jones said: “Mine is a quiet explorations quest for new meanings in color, texture and design. Even though I sometimes portray scenes of poor and struggling people, it is a great joy to paint.”

Jones was an artist whose work had international flair; it would have been an understatement to call me a black artist. She was proud of her African and American roots, yet wanted to be known as an “artist.” Not a black artist, not a female artist, just an artist who happens to incorporate heartfelt themes of pride in culture in her work.

During her life, Jones received honorary degrees from  Suffolk University, Colorado State Christian University, Massachusetts College of Art, and from her alma mater, HowardUniversity. She was also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London.

Jones died on June 9, 1998 at the age of 93.  She is buried on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, the place where her artist’s life began.


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