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Shirley Ann Woodson Reid

Artist and educator Shirley Woodson Reid was born on March 3, 1936 in Pulaski, Tennessee. Her father, Claude Elwood Woodson, worked for contractor Abraham McKissack, a relative of Reid’s mother, Celia Trotter Woodson. Attending Columbia Elementary School and Sherrill Elementary School, Reid captained the cheerleaders and graduated from Chadsey High School in 1954. She earned her B.F.A. degree from Wayne State University in 1958 and her M.A. degree from the same university in 1966. While attending MacDowell Artist Colony on a fellowship, Reid met her husband, Edsel B. Reid. In 1970, Reid attended the Conference on the Functional Aspects of Black Art (CONFABA) at Northwestern University.

Reid worked as an art education specialist in the Highland Park (Michigan) School District from 1966 to 1992. An art education professor at Wayne State University from 1996 to 2000, Reid started serving as art education supervisor for the Detroit Public Schools in 1992. She also served as director of the Pyramid Art Gallery from 1979 to 1980. Sought after as an art historian, Reid has been interviewed by the Detroit media many times since 1972 and has contributed to scores of newspaper and magazine articles.

Since 1974, Reid has been a member of the national executive board of the National Conference of Artists and in 1997 she was elected president of the Michigan chapter. A board member of the Ellington White Project, Reid is also a member of the Detroit Art Teachers Association, College Art Association, National Art Education Association and the Michigan Art Education Association. Reid’s paintings of African American life are a part of 22 collections housed by the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Museum of the National Center for Afro American Artists (Boston), Detroit Edison, the Toledo Art Commission, Florida A&M University and Seagrams. She has two sons, Khari and Senghor Reid.

Accession Number

A2005.100

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/7/2005

Last Name

Woodson-Reid

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Ann

Schools

Chadsey High School

Wayne State University

Sherrill Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Shirley

Birth City, State, Country

Pulaski

HM ID

WOO06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago, Illinois

Favorite Quote

Lord Have Mercy.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

3/3/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Corn (Fried)

Short Description

Painter and art education specialist Shirley Ann Woodson Reid (1936 - ) is most know for her paintings of African American life, which are a part of twenty-two collections housed by the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Studio Museum of Harlem, among other notable institutions. Woodson-Reid has also taught at Wayne State University, and has served as art education supervisor for the Detroit Public Schools since 1974.

Employment

Detroit Public Schools

Wayne State University

Highland Park School District

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Shirley Ann Woodson Reid's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her maternal grandparents' homes

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her mother's childhood on a farm in Pulaski, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls her maternal uncles' work in the mines of West Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her mother's unfulfilled desire to attend college

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her father's high schools in Pulaski and Chattanooga, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls how her parents met at a picnic in Pulaski, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls her mother's enjoyment of farm work

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her childhood household

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls moving to Detroit, Michigan in 1936

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about attending St. Stephen A.M.E. Church in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls her interest in art as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about her teachers in elementary school in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls studying art at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about her school report on Harriet Tubman

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her religious extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes the Detroit Institute of Arts museum youth program

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls her lack of exposure to African American artists

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls studying art at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls her perspective on the murder of Emmett Till in 1955

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes how her artistic interest developed at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls learning about African American art in 1966

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls meeting Richard Hunt at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her gradual awakening to African American art

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes how her art changed after visiting Europe in 1963

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Shirley Ann Woodson describes her experiences as an African American woman in Europe in 1963

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about Cedric Dover's book 'American Negro Art'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes Romare Bearden's influence on her art

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about creating art with African American subjects

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid reflects upon her artistic style

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls seeing saxophonists John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders perform together in Detroit

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about teaching a course on black art and music at Highland Park Community College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about the book 'The Vanguard Artist' and its oversight of black artists in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes HistoryMaker Howardena Pindell's research on the exclusion of black artists from museums in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes the market for African American art

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls the Conference on the Functional Aspects of Black Art

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about art education in Detroit Public Schools

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about her ancestor series

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about purchasing art by the African American painter, Jacob Lawrence

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid talks about where her artwork is collected

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes her masterpieces

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid reflects upon the importance of visual art

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Shirley Ann Woodson Reid narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

7$1

DATitle
Shirley Ann Woodson Reid recalls meeting Richard Hunt at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Shirley Ann Woodson Reid describes the market for African American art
Transcript
How did you choose to go to the University of--I mean the [School of the] Art Institute of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois]?$$Well, I wanted to--I didn't wanna go to Wayne [University; Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan]. I said, well I've got my first degree here, I don't wanna go and get my degree, let me try somewhere else. So I rode around to different places and I--you know, as I'm looking through material and I said, oh, here's something in Chicago [Illinois]. I've--my uncle lived in Chicago and his family, and I always loved Chicago. So I said, oh, I could--I could maybe go to Chicago. So I wrote for application for summer to see how I would like it and I went there for the summer. And it was in the--I took painting and art history and it was in the art history class that I met [HistoryMaker] Richard Hunt. That was in 1960. And he was taking the class--he was taking the art history class. It was really--it was called the history--it was really contemporary sculpture, but the instructor taught everything else that dealt with it, so it was really--it was a fabulous course. And at--we had a break. It was--we were--we were there like from eight to twelve for the class in the morning, and the afternoon was the painting. So every--when we take our break about ten o'clock, all the kids would go out and they'd all kind of rush around this young black guy. They'd all huddle around him and everything, and so there was another lady, African American lady in the class and we'd eat--you know, have our break, and I'd say, who are--who--why are all those--who is--who's that guy? All those people every time, they're always going and talking to him. She said, oh, that's Richard Hunt. I said, who's Richard Hunt? He's--she says, here, I'll show you and she took me around the corner and there was one of his gorgeous sculptures (laughter). She said the museum [Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois] bought that from him--bought that piece from him when he was eighteen (laughter), you know? I said, oh, okay. So that was my first awakening that there was something going on out here in the world that I didn't know about, but I was learning fast and I really enjoyed that. I met Richard, you know, we became friends and I--you know, we know each other. And--but anyway, and then we went on a tour of his studio and, and it was--at that time, it was in the home of his parents [Etoria Henderson Hunt and Cleophus Hunt] in the basement. He had all this metal and everything, and just, you know, it was--as I said, it was a real awakening. So I guess that was--I knew I wasn't gonna be the first woman--I mean, I was--I already met the first man that I thought--but still, this--the history of it, there was still no inclusion in terms of African American. It wasn't, as I said, until after that. These little, you know, bits and pieces you see, Archibald Motley, you know, they put him in--I knew about him from Ebony but they did him doing shower curtains if you remember that famous article. That was--that's how they covered him. They didn't cover him as an artist. They covered him as an artist who did designs on shower curtains, and so that's how I found out about him.$Off camera, we were talking--I was talking about the new boom in black folk art from the South.$$Right.$$You know if you go into the House of the Blues, for instance in, in Chicago [Illinois], it's filled with Negro--black folk art from down South--$$Yes.$$--and coffee table books written by--it's a whole movement now about black folk art and we're just discussing similar, the Haitian art, African art, people--usually white art dealers going to the regions and pick up this work for next to nothing--$$Right.$$--and then it's--now it's pricey.$$Right. Well, it's about the market. The centers of the art market are in New York [New York], London [England], and, well, Cologne [Germany] or wherever--Germany, wherever it would--wherever it would be. So, it's the United States, England, and Germany. It's still the core of the art market and it's probably the core of all other markets as well. And so in terms of African American artists, contemporary African American artists, that is not something, thankfully, that we have--that is something, I should say, that we have become involved in and enveloped and beginning to develop a market, a strong market with initiatives and so on. But reactions to that are that these--they're not interested unless they're gonna control it, so the white dealers who are not gonna have African American art, they're not gonna do that, but they're going to--they will develop a market in terms of the folk art, create big books, and have endless supply and, and continually to develop that. They want the aesthetic. The aesthetic--the aesthetic excites them but they're not interested in it unless they're--you know, it's in their hands. For example, I compare the work say of [HistoryMaker] Sam Gilliam and Frank Stella. Sam Gilliam is by far the more inventive, the more creative, but there's not one book, there's not one publication--there are catalogs, but there's not one publication out on this guy, on Sam Gilliam. He's a brilliant, brilliant artist, but I'm sure the Frank Stellas would stack up. And Frank Stella usually stays sort of in one vein of sculptural composition. And--but he's not--I mean, Sam, as I said, is by far--and that would be a contemporary, his contemporary. And you'll find the same with [HistoryMaker] Richard Hunt. Richard Hunt is a, you know, wealthy man according to what he's done, but there is not one major book. Rizzoli, Abrams [Harry N. Abrams, Inc.], whoever all these other people are that do the art books, there's nothing out on Richard Hunt. There's not--he's in catalogs. There's no book out on Richard Hunt. [HistoryMaker] Samella Lewis produced--even [Richmond] Barthe--a catalog for when they traveled abroad and, and she developed an exhibition, but nothing. And that was one of the things that had come out of CONFABA [Conference on the Functional Aspects of Black Art].