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Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly

Sculptor Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly was born on September 11, 1937 in Crenshaw, Mississippi to Mattie Louise Williams and Floyd Pitchford. Jolly received her B.A. degree from Roosevelt University in 1961 and her M.A. degree from Governors State University in 1974, both in the State of Illinois.

From 1961 to 1965, Pitchford-Jolly taught at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. She worked as teacher and director at the Chicago Youth Center Head Start from 1965 to 1969. Pitchford-Jolly then worked as program director at the Chicago Commons from 1969 to 1974. In 1974, she worked as a professor of ceramic at Chicago State University and the education coordinator of the Suburban Health System Agency until 1981. From 1981 to 1985, she was a self-taught ceramic artist and sculptor at the Press Artisan 21 Gallery in Chicago, Illinois. Pitchford-Jolly received an award in the Best Of Category at the Museum of Science and Industry in 1984. In 1986, she was recognized as a Top Ten Emerging Black Chicago Artist. A year later, Pitchford-Jolly worked as a curator at the Saphire and Crystals Black Women’s Art Exhibition. Her profile was featured in Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine and worked as an artist-in-residence for the Lakeside Group in 1988. Her work was also featured in the 2005 Chicago Woman’s Caucus for Art. In 2008, Pitchford-Jolly and David Philpot’s clay pots and carved wooden staffs were showcased in the “Kindred Spirits” Exhibit at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center. Her art is also exhibited and sold at the Esther Saks Gallery and was seen in Columbia Motion Pictures film, Date Night 7.

Pitchford-Jolly served on the board of directors of Urban Traditions in 1984 and the Chicago Cultural Center in 1986; a board member of the African American Rountable in 1985; and on the Exhibition Committee at the Chicago Cultural Center. In addition, Pitchford-Jolly volunteered at the Southside Community Art Center. Also, she is the founder of the Mude People’s Black Women’s Resources Sharing Workshop.

Pitchford-Jolly lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Pitchford-Jolly was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2008.

Marva Pitchford-Jolly passed away on October 21, 2012.

Accession Number

A2008.086

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/15/2008

Last Name

Pitchford-Jolly

Maker Category
Middle Name

Lee

Occupation
Schools

Francis Parkman Elementary School

Northern Illinois University

Englewood High School

Roosevelt University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marva

Birth City, State, Country

Crenshaw

HM ID

PIT02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Guadalajara, Mexico

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/11/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

10/21/2012

Short Description

Sculptor Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly (1937 - 2012 ) was a tenured professor of ceramics at Chicago State University. She was recognized as one of the Top Ten Emerging Black Chicago Artists of 1986, and her works have been exhibited numerous times.

Employment

Suburban Cook-DuPage County Health Systems Agency

Chicago State University

Head Start

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly recalls the community of Crenshaw, Mississippi, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly recalls the community of Crenshaw, Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her parents' courtship

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes the smells and sounds of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes the sights of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers her home in Crenshaw, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her relationship with her twin sister

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers her schooling in Crenshaw, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly recalls her bedtime routine

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers her first grade teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her early interest in art

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers her childhood friends

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes race relations in Crenshaw, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers her mother's death

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly recalls moving to her aunt's home in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers moving to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers Englewood High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers Englewood High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her black history education

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers her counselors at Englewood High School

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her graduation from Englewood High School

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly recalls working at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly recalls transferring to Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about her marriage

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about her art and music collection

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers the atmosphere of Roosevelt University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her work in community organizing

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly recalls joining the faculty of Chicago State University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers teaching at Chicago State University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about the South Side Community Arts Center in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes the Sapphire and Crystals art collective, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes the Sapphire and Crystals art collective, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her involvement in arts organizations

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about her philosophy of art

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her story pot about Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about her artistic inspiration

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her story pots

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly recalls her travels in Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her residency in Zambia

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about her sculpture, 'Old People Say'

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers the sale of an early story pot sculpture

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about the spiritual component of her artwork

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about her friends and family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly shares the 'Women of the World' story pot sculpture

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly talks about her youngest brother

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

5$3

DATitle
Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly remembers teaching at Chicago State University
Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly describes her story pot about Hurricane Katrina
Transcript
And I worked as a part timer until '89 [1989], but a lot of different things were happening. But that's the only thing you need to know. And we were changing presidents, you know. We had a couple of them during that period of time. Ayers [George E. Ayers] was, was one, and he left, and then we had some interim folks, you know. Chicago State was a mess. Let's just put it like that. And I didn't--I was debating whether or not--I have a tendency to really get hooked into things. So I was debating whether or not I am going to get hooked into teaching at Chicago State, I mean, because tenure track, I don't know what people think tenure track is, but that's a lot of work and a lot of documentation. So I just kept saying no. I just kept saying no. And in 1990, when Dolores Cross [HistoryMaker Dolores E. Cross] came, that's when the talks got really, really serious. We didn't have a lot of--people didn't know this, but the bulk of Chicago State's faculty was also white up until the early '90s [1990s], you know. And then it was about 60/40 [percent], maybe, black/white. It, it made a flip-flop, but even now. I think there are some advantages to it; I mean, I really do. I think that students really ought to be exposed to a lot of different kind of teachers. And the ones that--we kind of hung on to the ones that want to be there. The ones who don't are gone, you know. They kind of get tenure, and then they go someplace else. But when she came and talked to me about it, you know, I began to soften a bit, you know. And I thought, oh, man, here we go. But, you know, I made the commitment, and it is absolutely the best decision I've ever made, even though I swore (laughter) on my mother's [Mattie Williams Pitchford] grave I would never teach. Yet, that is--but my friends say that it is--God's punishing me by making me teach because I used to pick on them so much, you know. They were teachers, and I just laughed at them, (laughter) you know. So--and at Chicago State, you know, when we were going away, when were all graduating from Englewood [Englewood High School, Chicago, Illinois] if they were going to Chicago Teachers College [Chicago State University, Chicago, Illinois], you know, we just thought, ah, anybody can go to Chicago Teachers College, you know. And the fact that I end up being a professor at Chicago Teachers College, they just see it as an absolute justice, you know. And perhaps it is, because I, I just--but I love it. It's been a wonderful--you learn so much from students, you know. And particularly as a, as a professional artist, they approach and do things and create art in ways that, you know, I never thought about, you know. And I'll go like, oh, I'm taking that (laughter), you know.$And I felt very strongly about a lot of stuff socially. It has always pissed me off, racism. You have no idea, even as a little kid. You know, I thought, this is stupid. You know, it just never made sense to me. And I just wasn't going to go quietly. And I thought that a lot of the values that, the moral values that I had as a youngster, I thought they were universal, actually. We weren't taught to do this because this is better for black people. We were taught to do things because it was better for people period, you know, and to have a very broad thought about how the world runs, you know, not just America even, you know. And I will take some social issues and have that as a, as subject matter. For instance, this pot that's over to the right, I did this pot when Katrina [Hurricane Katrina] was going on. And that's just the name of it, because I hadn't been paying attention because I was busy and hadn't been watching TV or listening to much radio. And I get up, I ten--I get up four, five o'clock still a lot now. And I was watching TV, and I couldn't believe it. I mean, I just could not--you know, I'd heard them talking about there's gonna be a flood and stuff. But what I was seeing, I just--'cause I saw water full of debris, and I didn't know what the debris was, and then I saw it, you know. And it just, it just knocked me for a loop. And I just ate my breakfast and went to the studio and built a pot and painted it, you know. That's the way I just kind of purged the, the desire to absolutely kill somebody, I mean, you know, just go--I just wanted to go slap George Bush [President George Walker Bush]. That, that's what, you know--like, just shake him, you know. Now this, this, this, this, you know, man, I know you ain't connected, but (laughter), you know, this is crazy. This won't work, you know. So, that's, that, and I'm okay, and--$$So, so you use your, your interest in, in world events and politics--$$Yes.$$--inform your art.$$Yes, absolutely.