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Napoleon Jones-Henderson

Napoleon Jones-Henderson was born in 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. Jones-Henderson attended the Sorbonne Student Continuum Student and Artists Center in Paris, France in 1963 where spent one year immersed in an independent study program. Upon returning to the United States, he enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago and received his B.F.A. degree from there in 1971. Jones-Henderson went on to earn with his M.A. degree from Northern Illinois University in 1971 and his M.F.A. degree from the Maryland Institute College Art in 2005.

In 1968, during the apex of the Chicago Black Arts Movement, Jones-Henderson became involved with a Chicago-based artists’ collective called COBRA (Coalition of Black Revolutionary Artists). The collective changed their name in 1969 to AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists). During the formative years of AfriCOBRA, Jones-Henderson created large pictorial weavings that were included in the group’s important series of exhibitions mounted at the Studio Museum in Harlem in the early 1970s. He has been an active member of AfriCOBRA since 1969 and is the longest standing member of the group. In 2011, Jones-Henderson produced Africobra: Art for the People (2011), a documentary about the groups’ involvement with the 1960s Black Arts Movement.

Jones-Henderson became the Executive Director of the Research Institute of African and African Diaspora Arts, Inc., in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1979. He then went on to serve in various academic positions at Malcolm X College in Chicago, the Massachusetts College of Arts, Emerson College in Boston. Jones Henderson was appointed adjunct artist critic and lecturer at the Vermont College of Norwich University in Montpelier, Vermont in 1989. In addition, Jones-Henderson served as an artist-in-residence at Towson University, Syracuse University, and the McDonough School. In 2005, Jones-Henderson was appointed associate professor of art at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. His artwork is housed at the DuSable Museum of African American History, Schomburg Cdner of Research in Black Culture, Southside Community Art Center, Hampton University Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

In recognition of his art, Jones-Henderson received the Merit of Honor Award from the Walters Art Museum and the Award for Outstanding Recognition from the Museum of Science and Industry. He was also honored by the National Conference of Artists with the Award of Excellence.

Napoleon Jones-Henderson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.009

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/22/2013

Last Name

Jones-Henderson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Schools

George Washington Carver High School

Wilson Junior College

Shore Shore Junior College

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Northern Illinois University

Maryland Institute College of Art

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Napoleon

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

JON32

Favorite Season

All Seasons Except Winter

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

History Does Not Make Appointments.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

11/23/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Beans (Lima)

Short Description

Mixed media artist Napoleon Jones-Henderson (1943 - ) is director of the Research Institute of African and African Diaspora Arts Inc. and associate professor of art at Benedict College, is the longest standing member of AfriCOBRA.

Employment

Research Institute of African and African Diaspora Arts, Inc.

Benedict College

Vermont College

Emerson College

Roxbury Community College

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Napoleon Jones-Henderson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his maternal grandfather's migration from Alabama to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about the history of Juneteenth and Emancipation Day celebrations across the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his father's life in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his memories of growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his father's World War II service and how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson explains the origin of his first and last names

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson remembers the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls the Hall Library, Regal Theater, and Museum of Science and Industry on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls moving to Chicago's Altgeld Gardens community and attending George Washington Carver High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about Pan-Africanist scholar Frederic H. Hammurabi Robb and about Chicago's Chicken Man, Anderson Punch

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls his teachers at George Washington Carver High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls his teachers at George Washington Carver High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls his elementary school years in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his educators at George Washington Carver High School in Chicago, Illinois including principal Curtis C. Melnick

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes the Altgeld Gardens community of Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes the Altgeld Gardens community of Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his extracurricular activities at George Washington Carver High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson remembers Sammy Davis, Jr.'s performance at George Washington Carver High School in Chicago, Illinois, and learning to dance

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes preparing for college as a student at George Washington Carver High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls receiving a scholarship from the Jewel Tea Company to attend Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his decision to attend junior college and continue working for Jewel Tea Company after graduating from high school

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes receiving a scholarship to study art at the University of Paris in France

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about leaving his position at the Jewel Tea Company to study abroad in Paris, France

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recounts his journey to Paris, France to study art at the University of Paris

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes studying art at the University of Paris in during the summer of 1963

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his travels in Europe during the summer of 1963

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his return to Chicago, Illinois from Paris, France in 1963

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes the Black People's Topographical Research Centers on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes the intellectual environment of Paris, France in 1963

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recounts his decision to stop cutting his hair

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls the black community of Chicago, Illinois during the 1960s, the Nation of Islam, and HistoryMaker Margaret Burroughs

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about Malcolm X and black activism in Chicago, Illinois during the 1960s

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls the Black Arts organizations in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his interest in African textiles in art of the African Diaspora

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls a lecture by Whitney Halstead on African art at the Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls receiving a fellowship from the Art Institute of Chicago to study African art and art of the African Diaspora

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his religious upbringing

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his grandmother's religious beliefs and the spiritual importance of family and African heritage

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls the formation of AfriCOBRA in 1968, civil unrest in Chicago, Illinois, and the Wall of Respect mural project

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about AfriCOBRA and the desire to foster a uniquely African American artistic tradition

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes AfriCOBRA's aesthetics and the role of the image-maker

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes AfriCOBRA's first exhibition, at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York in 1970

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about the National Conference of Artists

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson explains the aesthetic principles of AfriCOBRA's works

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about HistoryMaker Wadsworth A. Jarrell, Sr.'s Wall of Respect mural

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about the Afro-Arts Theater and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes the network of African American cultural and political organizations in Chicago, Illinois in the late 1960s

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his mentors at the Art Institute of Chicago, including HistoryMakers Margaret Burroughs and Richard Hunt

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his fellowship with textile artist Claire Zeisler and the founding of Ankh Studio

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson explains the roles of African art and Egyptian symbols in the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about Raah Bird and the Ankh Studio in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes the South Shore community of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls teaching at Malcolm X College in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes Malcolm X College in Chicago, Illinois, and how it has changed since the 1970s

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson lists artists involved in AfriCOBRA, including Omar Lama

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about muralists Calvin B. Jones, Mitchell Caton, William Walker and Eugene Eda, and other artists

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls studying textile arts under Mahboob Shahzaman at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about marrying Annette Jones and moving to Boston, Massachusetts to teach at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about teaching at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about buying the Edward Everett Hale House in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes the history of his home and studio, the Edward Everett Hale House in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes cultural events at the Edward Everett Hale House in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls the 1999 Juneteenth celebration at the Edward Everett Hale House in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson contrasts the political and social environments of Chicago, Illinois and Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recounts his 1979 arrest in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recounts his 1979 arrest in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about NCA artists in Detroit, Michigan, including HistoryMakers Willis Bing Davis, Jon Onye Lockard, and Tyree Guyton

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about accepting an offer to teach at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes challenges he faced teaching students at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson remembers a controversy in 1999 over the flying of a Confederate battle flag over the South Carolina State House

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about employment opportunities for art faculty at historically black colleges and universities

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recounts his consulting work for USAID in Haiti

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes traveling to Barbados and Mauretania

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recounts his trip to Mauritania, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recounts his trip to Mauritania, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls Festac '77, the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about experiencing a spiritual connection to Africa at Festac '77 in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about the people he met in Nigeria during Festac '77

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his visit to the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove of Osogbo, Nigeria

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson reflects upon Festac '77 and the presidential election of HistoryMaker Barack Obama

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls the contrast between luxury guest accommodations and local poverty in Nigeria during Festac '77

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes his family

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his desire to preserve his artworks and his books

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Napoleon Jones-Henderson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

4$9

DATitle
Napoleon Jones-Henderson recalls his teachers at George Washington Carver High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
Napoleon Jones-Henderson talks about his mentors at the Art Institute of Chicago, including HistoryMakers Margaret Burroughs and Richard Hunt
Transcript
Now was Carver [George Washington Carver High School, Chicago, Illinois] rather new, I mean new when you when you moved out there (unclear)--$$No, no, it was an old, old--well, it might have been new in the sense that the high school building might have been built in the '50s [1950s], early '50s [1950s], before I moved out there. But the older part of the school, which were single-story long structures, because Altgeld Gardens [Chicago, Illinois] was built right after World War II, as those sort of settlements they were building around the country for relocation of military and their families. Brother Green, Thomas Green [ph.], the English teacher, he was friends with, and it's not surprising when I think about it, they were all colleagues together with Lorraine Hansberry, and Gwendolyn Brooks, and [HM] Margaret Burroughs, and you know, you go on down the line. All of these people were a part of the people who taught me at George Washington Carver High School. And actually, when Lorraine Hansberry's 'A Raisin in the Sun' was on Broadway, because of that friendship with my teachers, T. Green, we were the only persons outside of the Broadway production who were given rights to perform 'A Raisin in the Sun' while it was on Broadway (laughter).$$So were in it? Did you, did--$$Walter Lee.$$Okay.$$Yep. I still got my script and all my notes. And--$$Now that's some, that's basic, that's one of the lead roles--$$Hey--$$--in the play.$$--you know.$$Yeah, the role played role played by Sidney Poitier and other great actors.$$Yeah, but I don't think they did as good a job as I did--$$Okay (laughter).$$--'cause see, I'm from Chicago (laughter).$$Okay.$$But, yeah, so we had a, we had a deep education in terms of our school being populated by artistically engaged faculty. And I mean they, they didn't just--we didn't have a relationship with them just in school. We had relationships with them after school as well, 'cause they were very much committed to that community of students beyond the classroom, 'cause Helen used to, Mrs. Joyner [ph.] used to take us out to tile companies and get all the broken tiles or out to bottled soda distributors and get all the broken bottles that they'd have, 'cause back then they used to put soda in glass bottles. Yeah, we'd get all that broken glass, and we'd get ceramic tiles. And we'd go to fabric stores and get all the leftover fabric. And you know, she just opened up where that art was more than painting, and drawing, and sculpting. It was anything you can do with the stuff you do things with. And so she would have us, and our parents were very comfortable in lettin' us do whatever the teachers wanted after school, and they'd take us to do different things. And they were really, they were just an extension of our family.$In terms of that, just speaking about that, I mean, I, I haven't asked you who your, other than high school, I haven't asked you who your mentors were. And did you have a particular mentor at, at Art Institute [of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois], and was there, was there any particular mentors amongst the older artists in Chicago [Illinois]?$$Yeah, well, you know, Marion Perkins, and [HM] Margaret Burroughs, and Charlie Burroughs [Charles Gordon Burroughs], and [HM] Richard Hunt of course 'cause I knew about him because he had gone to the Art Institute, and he graduated in '55 [1955]. And, and serendipitously I guess you could say, since he graduated in 1955 and won a traveling fellowship from the Art Institute, no other black person had won one until I did in 1971. So, I mean, you know, take that, you know, so those and Etheline [ph.] Henderson, who was a ceramist and [HM] Geraldine McCullough, sculpturist, I mean, you know, all these different people, and Bill Walker [William Walker], and you know, on and on and on. I, those, particularly those who were older than me, I knew about them when I was at the Art Institute. And in our--quote--"activism" at the Art Institute, the handful of black students I mentioned were, that were students there, lobbied the school for--(unclear)--you need to get some black instructors here. And of course, the first thing they say, "We don't know no black artists." Oh, I do, we do. And so we just, we just pull it a lit--you know, we went from Jeff [HM Jeff Donaldson], from Margaret to Jeff. And he was doing his graduate work at Northwestern [University, Chicago, Illinois] then. And of course, they brought Margaret in to teach a class, and that's fine, 'cause we, we done, we're not trying to get the whole door. We just want the doorknob now. We'll get the hinge next, we get this part; we, you know, we move on to the whole thing. And even for the fellowship competition, the way they invite jurors into judge, and we said no, you've got to have some black artists as a part of this jury. You know, you've got black graduates here, so how is it that you cannot--and there are black artists out here, so we gave them a whole list of people. And of course, they, they took [HM] David Driskell--not so much of course, but they took David Driskell 'cause he was the most prominent academic artist out there at the time. This was '71 [1971]. So--$$That's right.$$--Driskell came in and was a part of the jury. And so, all of these were people--you know, I knew of, of Aaron Douglas, and I knew of you know, Hale Woodruff, and you know, all these people. And I, and, and I knew about them because of being in, in, in, connected to Margaret Burroughs, you know, and her being the well-spring of information. And at an NCA conference, I mean, you know, Margaret had you by your collar, not by your hand, but by your shirt collar, taking you around saying: well, this is Charles White, this is Elizabeth--(unclear)--this is--(unclear)--you need to sit down here with this person and talk to them, sat us down there, and she'd go off someplace else. So we had to get engaged with these people, so they became my mentors from afar. But the ones who were up close and personal was Margaret, you know. And so, through Margaret, I mean, you know, that was like having a job, being with Margaret, 'cause she put you to work. I mean you had to go to this; you had to do that; you had do this; you had do that, and all, all it was about was giving us the stuff we need to have to go forward, you know. She was committed. And from her level of commitment, which was the same as I was speaking about my high school teachers, it became mine. Like I said, you had to choose not to be an activist if you grew up in Chicago.

Lee Ransaw

Fine artist and art professor Lee Ransaw, was born on March 24, 1938, in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Sylvia and Lee Lester. In 1955, Ransaw received his high school diploma from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. He later attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where he earned his B.A. degree in art education in 1962 and his M.A. degree in fine arts in 1966. In 1973, Ransaw received his Ed.D. degree from Illinois State University.

While Ransaw was a graduate student at Illinois State University, he travelled to Nashville, Tennessee where he met artist and scholar David Driskell. This visit inspired Ransaw to begin collecting artwork for his private art collection. After taking courses at Pratt Institute in New York, Ransaw moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he taught African art and Afro-American art at Emory University. In 1979, Ransaw was hired at Morris Brown College as an art professor where he painted the Centennial Mural which depicted the history of the college. The mural was considered to be a national project and was commissioned by the Atlanta Coca Cola Bottling Company. In 2002, Ransaw along with Lamar Wilson, director of Ruth Hall Hodges Art Gallery, founded The National Alliance of Artists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (NAAHBCU) on the campus of Morris Brown College. Ransaw, then dean of arts and letters, and chair of the fine art department at the college, initially held a statewide exhibit that featured the artwork of the art faculty from Georgia based HBCUs. NAAHBCU held its first major traveling exhibition entitled Visions From Within at the James Kemp Gallery at The Black Academy of Arts & Letters in Dallas, Texas and featured thirty artists. In 2004, Ransaw was hired as an adjunct art professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Ramsaw retired as president of NAAHBCU in 2010 and served as chairman of the organization.

Among his many honors and awards were The Distinguished United Negro College Fund Scholars Award in Washington, D.C., The Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Ford Foundation Fellowship, and a Bronze Jubilee Award for artistic achievement given by PBS in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lee Ransaw was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April, 19, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.026

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/19/2011

Last Name

Ransaw

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Schools

Shortridge High School

Indiana University

Illinois State University

George Washington Carver Elementary School 87

Pulaski Elementary School

Indiana University Northwest

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lee

Birth City, State, Country

Little Rock

HM ID

RAN09

Favorite Season

May

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southern France

Favorite Quote

Be Well, Do Good Work, And Keep In Touch.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

3/24/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

Fine artist and art professor Lee Ransaw (1938 - ) was the dean of arts and letters and chair of the fine arts department at Morris Brown College and founder of The National Alliance of Artists from Historically Black Colleges.

Employment

Emory University

Morris Brown College

National Alliance of Artists from Historically Black Colleges

Spelman College

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:10136,170:13232,197:14006,237:15038,253:15898,265:21582,396:39068,567:40770,609:41954,630:43360,706:50408,776:50696,781:53072,839:53360,844:65145,1025:65620,1031:72430,1151:77302,1229:87552,1403:89820,1440:97848,1549:98530,1561:100100,1569:100471,1578:101213,1591:101425,1596:102008,1611:102432,1620:104763,1644:105675,1711:108858,1799:118296,1891:118544,1896:129720,2094:138708,2244:139247,2252:140094,2275:147528,2390:152255,2473:152595,2478:172154,2746:172602,2754:173050,2766:174330,2787:174586,2792:174842,2797:177594,2880:186274,2999:187309,3017:187585,3022:194184,3085:195496,3113:195906,3119:196234,3124:198770,3144:199210,3150:200002,3167:200442,3173:201234,3190:201850,3198:205458,3278:207148,3303:208204,3319:216510,3413:220535,3466:222430,3472$0,0:724,15:4296,87:11803,189:12127,194:12775,204:19294,273:19980,282:31315,416:34074,463:35409,483:39125,511:40169,526:49739,722:52200,760:53800,780:56760,854:57560,865:67287,948:68418,973:69027,981:78759,1145:79075,1150:79707,1161:80023,1166:80339,1171:90222,1356:92280,1406:92966,1415:104680,1592:108074,1640:108410,1645:108998,1653:109754,1676:114962,1776:126970,1930:127540,1941:132575,2032:133240,2046:135045,2067:140080,2220:145068,2236:145670,2244:148852,2312:149282,2318:149626,2323:153668,2402:154098,2408:164290,2549:164885,2557:167605,2618:167945,2623:171005,2674:171855,2686:178105,2743:184400,2884:184994,2895:185324,2901:189770,2970:190730,2989:192570,3034:196730,3122:210086,3270:214319,3380:225120,3515:229580,3566
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lee Ransaw's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lee Ransaw lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lee Ransaw describes his father's upbringing and education

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lee Ransaw remembers his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lee Ransaw describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lee Ransaw remembers moving to Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lee Ransaw talks about his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lee Ransaw describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lee Ransaw remembers living with his maternal relatives

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lee Ransaw recalls attending East Pulaski School in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lee Ransaw talks about his early interest in art

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lee Ransaw describes his earliest memories of religion

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Lee Ransaw describes his neighborhood in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Lee Ransaw talks about housing segregation in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lee Ransaw recalls attending George Washington Carver Elementary School 87 in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lee Ransaw remembers his favorite subjects in school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lee Ransaw recalls attending Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lee Ransaw talks about his childhood interests

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lee Ransaw recalls attending University United Methodist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lee Ransaw describes his neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lee Ransaw recalls his teachers and classmates

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lee Ransaw describes race relations in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lee Ransaw talks about African American representation in the media

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lee Ransaw recalls his decision to attend John Herron Art Institute

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lee Ransaw describes his mother's family background

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lee Ransaw recalls transferring to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lee Ransaw describes race relations at Indiana University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lee Ransaw remembers his professors at Indiana University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lee Ransaw describes his art education at Indiana University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lee Ransaw recalls his experiences at Indiana University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lee Ransaw remembers his appointment to cryptologic linguist in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lee Ransaw recalls being stationed with the U.S. Army in Venice, Italy

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lee Ransaw describes his role as a cryptologic linguist in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lee Ransaw recalls his first teaching job

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lee Ransaw remembers the deaths of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lee Ransaw describes his dissertation on the Wall of Respect

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lee Ransaw recalls his introduction to African American art

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lee Ransaw describes his early knowledge of the black aesthetic

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lee Ransaw talks about his dissertation committee, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lee Ransaw talks about his dissertation committee, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lee Ransaw describes his children

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lee Ransaw recalls being hired at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lee Ransaw recalls becoming department chair at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lee Ransaw remembers receiving a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lee Ransaw recalls starting his art collection

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lee Ransaw describes living and working in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lee Ransaw talks about some of his art exhibits

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lee Ransaw describes his improvements to the art department at Morris Brown College

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lee Ransaw recalls painting murals for Morris Brown College

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lee Ransaw describes his artwork, 'Dance of the Chicken Thieves'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lee Ransaw recalls receiving a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Lee Ransaw describes Atlanta's artistic renaissance

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Lee Ransaw talks about strategy behind collecting art

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Lee Ransaw recalls the founding of the National Black Arts Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Lee Ransaw describes his work at Morris Brown College in the late 1980s

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lee Ransaw talks about organizing an exhibit for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lee Ransaw recalls founding the National Alliance of Artists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lee Ransaw reflects upon his accomplishments and fellowships

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lee Ransaw recalls helping Dan Moore, Sr. to establish the APEX Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lee Ransaw remembers painter Benny Andrews

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lee Ransaw describes the exhibit 'Coming by Force: Overcoming by Choice'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lee Ransaw talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lee Ransaw describes his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Lee Ransaw shares a message for future generations of artists

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Lee Ransaw reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$2

DAStory

8$10

DATitle
Lee Ransaw recalls being stationed with the U.S. Army in Venice, Italy
Lee Ransaw recalls his decision to attend John Herron Art Institute
Transcript
So I got my assignment. Everybody got their assignments at Fort Gordon [Georgia]. Mine didn't come through. Everybody got their assignments. Some went to Vietnam and some went every place, and they didn't come to me. And they had a list of the top five or six graduates for crypto school[cryptologic school]. I was number four. The top five was supposed to go to Paris [France]. And, and four of 'em went, and I didn't go. They kept me there on post. And so I didn't know what it was, so I went to the IG, the inspector general and said, you know, "This is racism. Why didn't I get my assignment," which was a civilian status job in Paris. He said, "Well, I'm gonna look into this, we're gonna look into this and find out why you didn't get this school." So they came back with the excuse that they wanted me there on post to play basketball and play baseball. I said, "But you guys didn't know I play basketball. How you gonna put me on basketball team?" Said, "We'll cut you another assignment." So two or three weeks later--they didn't tell me where they were sending me, they put me on a plane to New York. And I ended up in New York at the fort up there, I can't remember the fort. But I went there. And they had APO 221 on my, for my mail. And so I went to the post office 'cause mother [Sylvia Hall Ransaw] and everybody was asking me, "Where are you going?" And I couldn't tell 'em. So I went to APO 221, and that was Italy. I was supposed to go to Italy, and I said, "Well, that's a pretty good assignment." But in this crypto school, which is interesting, they give you a lie detector test as I said. And on this test, they'll ask you a lot of questions, and then one of the questions they came to, they said, "Have you ever cheated on a college exam before?" I said, "No." Then they went down and asked some more questions. And they came back to that same question, "Have you ever cheated on a college--," they asked it a different way. My heart started jumping, and I remembered the time that I had looked on somebody else's paper for something, and I said, "No." So we got through the test, and he unstrapped me. He got me up, and he said, "Do you have anything to say?" I said, "Oh, yeah, on that college exam, you asked me one question, I remembered I had looked on somebody else's paper." He said, "I'm glad you told me that 'cause we were about to kick you out of school" (laughter). I was about to be gone. But I got a very nice assignment in Venice, Italy, Venezia, Italy, in crypto--and where I wanted to be. That's because it's a center of art, Venice, Venezia, Florence [Italy], Rome [Italy] and I stayed over there for several years playing basketball and finished up [U.S.] military.$$Because this is the time of Vietnam, you have this really nice assignment in Italy, but did you understand about the Vietnam War? At that time, did you understand what was going on?$$I understand--I understood when I got to Italy because several of my friends that were over there got killed. And I did crypto so Red Cross would send me messages, and I'd see their names come across. And I knew these people, a lot of these people that were getting killed over there. They were down at Fort Gordon, Fort Leonard Wood [Missouri] with me. And I knew the gravity of that situation over there, and it's just fortunate I didn't get sent over there.$$Okay, and so how long were you in Italy?$$I was there for about three years.$Who helped you prepare for college? Did you know that you were definitely gonna go to college?$$I knew a long time ago that I was gonna go to college, yes, I did. I knew. And I think my role model for that, it was interesting. I had, was out playing basketball one day with the guys on the, in the community center. And one of the guys who was playing, he was very good. And I was guarding him, and we started talking, and I said, "What do you do?" And he said, "I teach at a college." And he named the college out in California that he taught at. And I said, man, this guy plays basketball and doing real well, and he's teaching at a college, a young guy like this. You know, I think I might wanna do that, you know. And that was one of the things that got in my head early in life that I wanted to do. And the other thing, I was watching a television program. And I can't think of the actor's name, but he was, the scene of his, his series was that he was a college professor. And he used to wear a sweater all the time. And he was very mild mannered, and he spoke in a very mild mannered. And I said, "Man, that's an idea. I'd sure like to do what he's doing," you know. Well, those two things kind of stuck in my head, you know, for a long time. And I said, "Well, you know, I think I'd like to go to college," you know. And I always worked towards that at that point, you know. And then the things that I learned at Shortridge [Shortridge High School, Indianapolis, Indiana] kind of more or less cemented that desire to go and, go to college.$$How did you decide what college you would go to or apply to?$$Well, the most popular college in Indiana was Indiana University [Bloomington, Indiana]. Everybody, 'cause everybody started talking it up, kids from other areas, friends, and they wanted to go to IU. And so I was in art, and I wanted to go to IU too, but my mother [Sylvia Hall Ransaw] said, "No, you're not going down there your first year. We're gonna send you here to the extension, and you can take your art courses or take some courses over to John Herron [John Herron Art Institute; Herron School of Art and Design] or someplace like that." Well, John Herron was a very fine art school. It was located there too, in Indianapolis [Indiana]. Hale Woodruff and some of the other well known artists had gone to, had been a John Herron. So that's what I did. The first year I decided--and I worked. I went out to the, the state fair, got my first job at Allis Chalmers [Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company], shining tractors. And I'd jump over the fence, go over there, go to work every day, and that gave me my first paycheck, all went toward college. Everything I started doing was directed toward college. So Mother could see that I was putting in and wanted to go that badly, she was gonna send me, but she wasn't gonna send me down on campus the first year. And it's a good thing she didn't because once I started going down there, I went down there, a lot of my friends who had gone down there partying and playing was coming back. They had flunked out. So when I went down, you know, I was pretty much prepared.$$And so what courses did you take at John Herron?$$I took still life painting, how to paint an apple so that if you put a fly on it, or paint a fly on it, it looks like it's real and all that stuff or one would be attracted to it. Those were the kind of courses I took, very varied (laughter). Then we'd go out sometimes and paint old sheds or old houses, draw 'em, and that was, that was very nice.

Evangeline Montgomery

Curator, printmaker, and mixed media artist Evangeline "EJ" Montgomery was born on May 2, 1930, in New York. Her mother, Carmelite Thompson, was a homemaker and her father, Oliver Thompson was a Baptist minister. She discovered her artistic talents when she received her first oil painting set at the age of fourteen. After her parents separated, Montgomery and her mother moved to Harlem in New York, New York. In 1951, Montgomery earned her high school diploma from Seward Park High School in lower Manhattan, where she was a cheerleader, a member of the swim and basketball teams and a member of student government.

From 1951 until 1954, she worked at statuaries, painting the faces on dolls and religious statues. In 1955, Montgomery moved to Los Angeles with her husband and worked for Thomas Usher, an African American jewelry designer. She received her B.F.A. degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) in 1969 and she worked as an independent curator to museums, university galleries and art centers where she organized exhibits. In 1971, she served as the curator for the Rainbow Sign Gallery in Berkeley, California before becoming an exhibition specialist for the American Association for State and Local History in Nashville, Tennessee and coordinating eight national workshops on “Interpreting the Humanities through Museum Exhibits.” She also organized national exhibit workshops for the Association of African American Museums. In 1983, Montgomery began her career with the United States State Department as a program development officer for the Arts America Program, specializing in American exhibitions touring abroad. In this capacity, she developed and implemented successful American fine art programs in the United States and throughout the world. In her own art career, Montgomery is noted for her metal work, especially her metal ancestral boxes which were inspired by the Chinese incense boxes her mother used for praying. Her colorful lithographs have also garnered her attention, being prominently displayed in exhibitions funded by the United States government.

In 1997, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease which has made it difficult for Montgomery to work with metal. However, she has not let the diagnosis limit her artistic vision, instead shifting her focus to printmaking, lithographs, and the digital arts. In 2005, Blacks In Government (BIG) began the Evangeline J. Montgomery Scholarship Program, to encourage and fund artists who are interested in working in government to spread the influence of the arts.

Evangeline "EJ" Montgomery was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.258

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/13/2004

Last Name

Montgomery

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

Seward Park High School

Los Angeles City College

California College of the Arts

California State University, Los Angeles

University of California, Berkeley

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Evangeline

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

MON03

Favorite Season

April

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Northern California

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

5/2/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Printmaker, curator, and mixed media artist Evangeline Montgomery (1930 - ) began her career as an arts administrator in San Francisco, California and since then, has worked tirelessly to create opportunities to showcase African American artists.

Employment

Oakland Museum of California

American Association for State and Local History

United States Information Agency

United States Department of State

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
0,0:2680,25:3130,31:9070,104:9790,112:10510,121:12040,144:12760,154:13120,159:19596,170:20289,179:20685,188:26476,251:27586,275:28548,291:32027,352:32774,361:33936,385:34434,393:36094,421:36924,432:38833,461:39829,476:40493,481:41074,489:45335,527:47960,570:48335,577:51335,634:56696,673:57788,692:58698,706:60660,715:68140,790:68460,795:75810,896:76530,908:79730,927:81630,945:83333,955:84640,962:93192,1052:93504,1057:94050,1065:99588,1164:100446,1177:100758,1182:101070,1187:108870,1231:110865,1254:113900,1277:114494,1287:119670,1361:120125,1369:134130,1480:134614,1485:138938,1538:149610,1625$0,0:230,21:1030,31:9738,87:33490,263:36370,300:38463,336:56983,514:57409,522:57835,529:58474,544:58829,550:59823,569:63545,619:63920,625:64445,634:72602,699:85338,820:89999,834:90711,845:91423,854:93381,877:94004,885:102320,959:106850,1033:111160,1098:111484,1103:112132,1115:114826,1138:115239,1147:115534,1153:117770,1169:121726,1204:131810,1293:132370,1303:145580,1388:158314,1488:159286,1498:165273,1558:176636,1638:176932,1643:177302,1649:178116,1663:178782,1673:189738,1800:198700,1915:201786,1934:202482,1943:205147,1974:215196,2036:216060,2047:217692,2079:222340,2102:230710,2170:232990,2191:236790,2218:238450,2239
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Evangeline Montgomery's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Evangeline Montgomery lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Evangeline Montgomery describes her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about being adopted

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about meeting Mary McLeod Bethune

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Evangeline Montgomery describes her home life as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Evangeline Montgomery describes memorable communities in which she grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Evangeline Montgomery describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her elementary school interests and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Evangeline Montgomery describes her experience growing up as the daughter of a Baptist minister

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Evangeline Montgomery describes her childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her move to New York, New York after her parents' divorce

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her junior high school experiences at P.S. 43 in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her experiences at Seward Park High School in New York, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her experiences at Seward Park High School in New York, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about relocating to Massachusetts with her mother after graduating from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her employment in the art industry after graduating from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her work in the jewelry field before attending Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Evangeline Montgomery describes the process for designing jewelry with enamel

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Evangeline Montgomery describes her studio art experiences in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about being dissuaded from teaching art

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her impressions of art in Nigeria

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Evangeline Montgomery describes her experience of art exhibitions during the black studies movement

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about coordinating an exhibition on Sargent Claude Johnson's life and art

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Evangeline Montgomery reflects upon the impact of African American art in California during the black studies movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about curating African American ethnic art and at the Rainbow Sign Gallery in Berkeley and the Oakland Museum of California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her work for the American Association for State and Local History in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about working with the Association of African American Museums

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Evangeline Montgomery describes the impetus for creating metal ancestral boxes

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Evangeline Montgomery describes how she came to work for the U.S. Information Agency as its program development officer for exhibitions

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about notable African American artists with whom she worked

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Evangeline Montgomery describes her process for working in lithography

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about the impact of technology on visual art processes and mediums

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about challenges faced by African American artists

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her visual art and metal pieces

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about the challenges she faces as an artist with Parkinson's disease

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her Blacks in Government scholarship fund, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about opportunities for African American artists

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about the demand for African American artwork

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her Blacks in Government scholarship fund, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Evangeline Montgomery reflects upon the importance of the arts

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Evangeline Montgomery reflects upon her experiences as an artist and art administrator

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Evangeline Montgomery describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about inspirational artists

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Evangeline Montgomery reflects upon her artwork and artistic mediums

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Evangeline Montgomery describes her hopes for curating a book art installation in the future

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Evangeline Montgomery reflects upon her life and legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Evangeline Montgomery shares advice for pursuing a career as an artist

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Evangeline Montgomery talks about her role as art commissioner in San Francisco, California

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

12$4

DATitle
Evangeline Montgomery reflects upon the impact of African American art in California during the black studies movement
Evangeline Montgomery describes the impetus for creating metal ancestral boxes
Transcript
And at the time when the black studies explosion was taking place, what impact do you think that had on African American artists?$$Well, it was great for them because it began to open new doors for them. For instance, I did exhibitions. I organized exhibitions for all the colleges in and around the [San Francisco] Bay Area [California] and some in Southern California even. I was able to bring artists from Southern California into exhibitions in Northern California. I also decided that if I was asked to do a show in a university setting or something like that, that I would try to get an artist from outside of the area as a guest artist as part of the show. For instance, I did an exhibition at Stanford University [Stanford, California] on printmaking. And I invited an artist from Boston [Massachusetts], Calvin Burnett, who is a famous printmaker, and had a dozen of his pieces as part of the show, so that I as introducing a new name, new style, someone who had reached heights in, in that particular medium.$$And were you finding that only African Americans were interested in African American artists?$$No, in California it was truly accepted by everybody in that they came to see. And if, if coordinated in the right way, the, lot of publicity and whatnot, everybody came to see. Now, whether in museums and whatnot, you're not necessarily selling works of art. So--$$You're just showing them.$$Just showing and giving people a history, and a background, and also offering an opportunity to look at abstract work, to look at images of themselves, to look at quality art, new technology, things like that.$Tell us a little bit about the ancestral boxes that you create out of metal.$$Well, my mother [Carmelite Thompson] had an incense burner, and it's a Chinese little vessel. And she used to write notes, and when she prayed over them and thought about them, if the experience that she wanted to happen came to pass in a favorable manner, then she would burn the note. I knew that she was using this incense burner for something. But, and I had seen her place things in it, but I had never looked in it, ever. And when my mother died, the, the first thing I did was to open that incense burner, lift the cover off, and there were two notes placing me in God's hands. Now, I was an adult, but I was divorcing and you know, had problems of my own and whatnot. So she, she was still thinking about me even in her sickest moments. And when I was thinking about an object to, to make, I first made incense burners. And there are three of those incense burners from the first set that I made in the collection of the Oakland Museum in California [Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, California]. Then they turned into box shapes, and I began to think about ancestral worship and whatnot and I had seen containers in Africa knew that they make, use them for various things.$$How, how did you make your first ancestral box?$$They're all made out of wax originally, and then they are cast using a method that Africans use a lot.$$What's the method?$$Well, forming them in, in some sort of container situation in a mold, and then burning out the wax, and then pouring in hot molting metal into your mold shape and casting.$$And--$$And I, I feel these boxes are for something precious. They could be used as incense burners whether they're a box or whatnot. But they also could hold like your wedding ring, your tooth, all your baby teeth and, or anything, something.$$How, how big are they usually?$$They're fairly small, two by two, three by three.$$When did you make your first one?$$Sixty-nine [1969].$$What do you keep in yours?$$I don't keep anything in mine (laughter). I just have them. And I recently sold some of the earlier ones. They have been included in exhibitions over the years, and are recorded in several publications.