Our latest artist spotlight centers on four groundbreaking Black women artists from the early 1900s to today. A mid 20th century fashion designer, a rediscovered textile artist, a contemporary novelist, and an emerging painter.
Stories like that of early 20th century fashion designer Ann Lowe remind us that the egregious disregard and underrepresentation of Black women's work throughout history is something that the art world has only recently begun to combat. Inspired by recent exhibitions like the African American Museum in Philadelphia's 2021 retrospective of textile artist Anna Russell Jones, we're highlighting four artists whose work and stories deal with issues of history, identity, representation, and liberation.
Ann Lowe, Fashion Designer (1898-1981)
Born into a lineage of seamstresses, Ann Lowe was the first African American woman to become a lauded fashion designer. Christian Dior admired her craftsmanship. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis commissioned her to design her wedding gown. But despite her long and successful career designing dresses for society’s elite, Lowe herself remained virtually unknown to the wider public. Today, she is finally recognized as a pioneer of American couture, and her designs are exhibited at renowned museums like the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of the City of New York. Cut from fine fabrics and featuring exquisite floral motifs, Lowe’s gowns are true masterpieces.
Anna Russell Jones, Graphic + Textile Artist (1902-1995)
Born in Jersey City in 1902, Anna Russel Jones was a truly barrier-breaking artist with a complex and accomplished career. An exceptionally talented designer who worked in wallpaper, carpet design, and illustration, Jones was greatly admired by her contemporaries but rarely known outside her field. In 1925, she became the first African American graduate of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art & Design), and went on to open her own design studio, to work as a graphic artist for the U.S. Army and the civil service, and to practice nursing—all incredible accomplishments for a Black woman in the early 1900s. We are endlessly inspired by her stunningly detailed and precise textile designs.
Kaitlyn Greenidge, Writer
Kaitlyn Greenidge is a critically acclaimed and award-winning writer as well as the current Features Director at Harper's Bazaar. We were spellbound by her 2021 novel Libertie, a moving portrait of a young Black woman coming of age in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States. Both her fiction and her cultural criticism often explore Black womanhood and the way history and memory influence our everyday lives.
Jadé Fadojutimi, Painter (b. 1993)
It was a love of color that first drew Jadé Fadojutimi to painting, despite not having much exposure to the arts during childhood. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2017, she's become recognized for her vivid, large-scale paintings that explode with color. Though her paintings appear wholly abstract at first, figurative elements and layers of meaning are revealed upon close viewing. Her debut solo museum show opened this past November at the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami and is showing through April 17, 2022.