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Georgette Seabrooke Powell

Art therapist, non-profit chief executive, and painter Georgette Ernestine Seabrooke Powell was born on August 2, 1916 in Charleston, South Carolina to Anna and George Seabrooke. Powell grew up in the Yorkville neighborhood of New York City. In the 1930s, she graduated from Washington Irving High School in New York City. She also studied art at the Harlem Art Workshop and the Harlem Community Art Center. In 1933, Powell began majoring in art at Cooper Union Art School in New York, and during this time she was selected to be a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Federal Arts Project.

As an artist through the WPA from 1936-1939 she created murals at Queens General Hospital and Harlem Hospital as well as and did some public art. In 1959, Powell's family moved to Washington, D.C., where she became immersed in Washington's arts society. Studying art therapy in the early 1960s, at the Metropolitan Mental Health Skills Center and the Washington School of Psychiatry, Powell became a registered arts therapist through the American Art Therapy Association. She taught art to promote skill building and self-esteem with mentally ill patients at D.C. General Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry. In 1973, Powell earned her B.F.A. degree from Howard University. In 1975, she founded and directed the Tomorrow’s Art World Center, Inc. to assist young aspiring artists. Powell was a member and President of the District of Columbia Art Association between 1974 and 1998.

Powell’s artistry appeared in seventy-two major art exhibits between 1933 and 2003. She exhibited throughout the United States and in Venezuela, Nigeria and Senegal. Her exhibits have included: a one woman show, “Radiance and Reality,” which she showcased at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington; and a 1995 show, “Art Changes Things” which was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute. Her works hang in distinguished permanent collections across the country. An example is "Grandmother’s Birthday," which was acquired by and hangs at the Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois.

Georgette Ernestine Seabrooke Powell resides in Palm Coast, Florida and enjoys the company of her three children, grand-children and great-grandchildren.

Georgette Seabrooke Powell passed away on December 27, 2011 at the age of 95.

Georgette Ernestine Seabrooke Powell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 8, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.135

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/8/2006

Last Name

Powell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Seabrook

Schools

Washington Irving High School

Fordham University

Washington School of Psychiatry

Turtle Bay Music School

Cooper Union

P.S. 6 Lillie D. Blake School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Georgette

Birth City, State, Country

Charleston

HM ID

POW08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

8/2/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Palm Coast

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Rice, Okra, Gumbo, Chicken, Fish

Death Date

12/27/2011

Short Description

Art therapist, nonprofit chief executive, and painter Georgette Seabrooke Powell (1916 - 2011 ) was the last of the Black Renaissance painters of the 1930's Works Progress Administration. Her paintings appeared in over seventy-two major art exhibits.

Employment

United States Works Progress Administration

District of Columbia General Hospital

District of Columbia Department of Recreation

Powell's Lodge Art Studio

Tomorrow's World Art Theater

Favorite Color

Blue, Violet

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Georgette Seabrooke Powell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls moving to New York City as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her family's life in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers attending New York City's P.S. 6

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her early interest in art

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her education at P.S. 6

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls her decision to attend Washington Irving High School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers Washington Irving High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her early art pieces

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers the Harlem Arts Workshop

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls the art workshops in Harlem

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls seeking employment after high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recall her admission to the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls being hired by the Works Progress Administration

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers creating a mural at Harlem Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls the opposition to her mural at Harlem Hospital, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls the opposition to her mural at Harlem Hospital, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her mural, 'Recreation in Harlem'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her work with the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers moving to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her children

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell talks about returning to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers opening the Powell Art Studio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her introduction to art therapy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls working in art therapy in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes the impact of art therapy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell talks about the collectors of her art

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers earning her degree at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls travelling with Lois Mailou Jones

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls founding the Operation Heritage Art Center in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers changing the name of her art center

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell reads a letter from President Ronald Reagan

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her community art projects

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell talks about her art exhibitions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls her exhibit at the Charleston Black Arts Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell reflects upon the changes in her artistic style

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers her collaboration with Allan Crite

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

8$9

DATitle
Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls travelling with Lois Mailou Jones
Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls founding the Operation Heritage Art Center in Washington, D.C.
Transcript
When you were at Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.] in the school without walls [University Without Walls] studying art--$$Yeah.$$--did you know and meet Lois Jones [Lois Mailou Jones] at that time?$$Well, I--$$Was she around?$$Yes, prior to that, and I don't know (unclear). My children have been instrumental in many ways in finding about things, like, of course, my daughter [Phyllis Powell Washington] (unclear) Blue Cross, Blue Shield. But, Richard [Richard Victor Powell], again, he had found out, you know, he says, "You and daddy [George Powell] have not taken any trips, any long trips or anything. In fact, I don't think I've been on a plane with you." And so it was this 'round the world trip, and Lois Jones had, had the trips planned for her students each year. And this was a biggie. This was a big--this was around the world. And so we found, we said, okay, we'll try to go. And that, actually, I think I met Lois before, but it, more and more, a closer friendship. And actually, there weren't that many students who signed up, but there were some people, older people and so forth, and we had a wonderful time. It was, only about seventeen or eighteen of us, you know. And we went around the world in thirty-five days.$$Wow, with Lois?$$With Lois (laughter).$$Okay.$$(Laughter) An introduction to all the countries. And, well, of course, Africa was not included, but we went to New Delhi [India], Hong Kong, you name it. It was that, yeah.$You started, I think it was 1969, something called Tomorrow's World Art Center [Operation Heritage Art Center; Tomorrow's World Art Center, Washington, D.C.] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Tomorrow's--$$Tell me about that. What was that?$$Yeah, that's another thing. Since, living in the Bronx [New York] and so forth, neighborhood, as neighborhood folks and people who want to improve their, you know, environment and so forth, we had made up an organization, Patona [ph.] community organization, cooperate in the interest of your neighbor and so forth. And, and those folks, they used to make a paper, and they turned our house into a meeting place and so forth and so on. And so therefore, I think that sort of helped me to want to do things when I didn't come down to Washington [D.C.], not knowing anyone, I soon did find out that there were groups of artists. Number one, I was able to be admitted in the D.C. Teachers College [District of Columbia Teachers College; University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.] for the Saturday classes and so forth. And then the other was, mingling with more people, I decided to work part time with the department of recreation [D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation] and so forth, and they, too, had the art classes and so forth. And this was on, I--when I had the studio on 14th Street, my son, Richard [Richard Victor Powell], decided to go back to Chicago [Illinois] to live, and I walked the streets, and I found this spacious and very nice building. And it had a office available, and so I rented that as a studio for myself. And then I said--the next one became available. I rented that. And then my mind, to me, I said people aren't doing enough for each other here. It's not like New York [New York]. I didn't see this feeling of coming together. And that really was a no, no. So, then I said, well, there was this young man who I had met through just association of one another, you know, attending the neighborhood affairs and so forth. And he said, oh. He had just put together Operation Heritage, and I said, "Well, that's nice. What do you do?" And he named how he wanted it, just enlarged in terms of writing all of these kinds of things, including arts. And I thought that was great. And, but then I had the space, but he had the idea. And, but he talked, talked, talked in thankfulness, and to this day, he--I sort of thank him in a way, too, because I said, you know, to do--and talk about something and not being able to have a team. So that was when I first put in for the first grant to the national endowment to have classes up at this, at the art center which we first named Operation Heritage Art Center.$$I see.$$And, so that went on several years.$$Um-hm.