Artist Jacob LawrenceChronicles of Struggle and Hope

in Arts, News Releases
August 5th, 2004

Contact: Rebekah Lamb, 617/353-4672 |

(Boston) — The Boston University Art Gallery (BUAG) is pleased to announce the first exhibition of the 2004-2005 season, Jacob Lawrence: Chronicles of Struggle and Hope, showcasing over sixty prints and paintings by Jacob Lawrence from 1963-2000. The works depict critical moments in history and the struggles of working people as they confront oppression, overcome daily adversities, educate themselves, and participate in their communities. The works on display at the BUAG include paintings, drawings, and prints from his various series, The Legend of John Brown, Harriet Tubman, and Toussaint L’Ouverture, as well as single prints. A highlight of the exhibition is the group of eight original gouache paintings created to accompany the 1983 deluxe edition of John Hersey’s 1946 Hiroshima. These paintings present a visual interpretation of the moments following the atomic bomb explosion over Hiroshima.

Born in 1917, Jacob Lawrence spent his childhood in New York City, attended classes at the Harlem Community Art Center and the American Artists School, and later worked for the Federal Art Project. While still in his twenties Lawrence exhibited his paintings at major museums across the country, including the Phillips Collection and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he became the first African American artist to have a major solo exhibition. During World War II Lawrence served in the U.S. Coast Guard; following the war he taught briefly at Black Mountain College with Josef Albers. He lived, painted, and taught in New York City until 1971, when he joined the faculty of the University of Washington. He was the recipient of numerous awards including the National Medal of Arts.

It was in 1930s Harlem that Jacob Lawrence developed his expressive cubism. The art community there, with its workshops, the Harlem Artists Guild and the Harlem Art Center, expanded Lawrence’s ideas about art, its possibilities and responsibilities. One of his mentors, the painter Charles Alston, recognized the power and promise of Jacob Lawrence’s work when he said in 1938: “Still a very young painter, Lawrence symbolizes more than any one I know, the vitality, the seriousness and promise of a new and socially conscious generation of Negro artists.” The prints showcased at the Boston University Art Gallery reflect both his early influences as a student and artist in Harlem and his mature signature style of tight interlocking patterns of simplified shapes with a palette of flat, pure color. Jacob Lawrence’s images reflect his lifelong sensitivity to the world around him. Whether seen in museums, disseminated through limited-edition prints and posters, or reproduced in books, his works remind us that struggle, unity and hope are the best weapons to strengthen the concept of community and merge it with the aspirations of all humanity.

Event: Jacob Lawrence: Chronicles of Struggle and Hope

Date: September 9: Opening Reception
September 10 – October 24, 2004: exhibit
October 1- Panel Discussion
October 13- Gallery Talk

Time: Reception: 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Exhibit Hours: Tues. – Fri. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Panel Discussion: 6-8 p.m.
Gallery Talk: 1 p.m.

Place: Opening Reception,
Panel Discussion & Gallery Talk
Boston University Art Gallery
855 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Mass.

Related events open to public:

On Jacob Lawrence, Langston Hughes, Alain Locke and the Harlem Renaissance
Patricia Hills, Exhibition Curator and Professor of Art History, Boston University
Jeffrey C. Stewart, Professor of History and Art History, George Mason University
Martha J. Nadell, Assistant Professor of English, Brooklyn College
Friday, October 1, 2004, 6-8 p.m.
At the Gallery

Michelle Dubois, co-author of Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings, and Murals (1935-1999), A Catalogue Raisonné, will talk about Jacob Lawrence’s life and work.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004, 1 p.m.
At the Gallery

Note to Editor: Images are available upon request by writing Rebekah Lamb at, calling 617/353-4672, or faxing 617/353-4509.

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