Collage artist Phoebe Beasley was born on June 3, 1943 in Cleveland, Ohio to Annette Davis Beasley and George Author Beasley, Jr. Beasley has two other siblings; she has one brother, George Author Beasley III and one sister, Annette Joyce Beasley Coleman. When Beasley was seven years old, her mother who was seven months pregnant died of a heart attack at twenty-nine years of age; her father, later remarried. During her early years, Beasley developed an interest in being an artist. During high school, Beasley received extensive artistic training. In 1961, she entered Ohio University, where she completed her B.F.A. degree in painting, with a minor in education, graduating in June of 1965. She later earned her M.A. degree from Kent State University.
In 1968, Beasley married Louie Gene Evans Jr; the union ended in divorce in 1969. It was during those years that Beasley's artistic efforts increased, culminating in the opening of a store front studio. She specialized in oils-on-canvas, as well as prints and collages. Her reputation as an artist grew, and she began meeting celebrities, including the legendary NBA player Bill Russell. It was through that relationship that she was introduced to Dr. Maya Angelou, who later became her mentor. Beasley simultaneously began a second career in radio marketing. She eventually worked more than twenty-five years in the radio industry.
Throughout the years, Beasley has become a world-renowned artist whose works are featured in the homes of Oprah Winfrey, Anita Baker, Dr. William Burke and Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Tavis Smiley, Byron Allen, Grant Hill, Marla Gibbs, Roger Penske, Tyler Perry and Bill Cosby. Beasley’s commissions include being the official artist of the 1987 and 2000 Los Angeles Marathons, the 100 Black Men National Convention and the 2000 National Democratic Convention. Beasley became the first African American female president of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Beasley’s work honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution.
Phoebe Beasley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 18, 2007.