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Juniata Art Museum Exhibits Jacob lawrence Prints

(Posted September 10, 2007)

Jacob Lawrence often used inspiration from his own life for his art. This print from his \"Genesis\" series, was inspired by a sermon Lawrence heard.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The art of Jacob Lawrence, a celebrated artist who depicted African-American life and culture, will be on display at the Juniata College Museum of Art in the exhibition \"Jacob Lawrence: Three Series of Prints,\" which opens Thursday, Sept. 20 and runs through Nov. 3. There will be an opening reception at the museum at 4:30 p.m., Thursday Sept. 20. The exhibition is organized around three series of prints produced by Lawrence from 1963 to 2000. The three series represented in the show are \"Genesis,\" \"Hiroshima\" and \"Toussaint L\'Ouverture.\" Lawrence\'s artistic style, which favors bold colors and figurative imagery, is particularly effective for the \"storytelling\" function of the prints. The \"Genesis\" series is inspired by the artist\'s memories as a child of hearing fiery sermons at Harlem\'s Abyssinian Baptist Church in the 1930s. The \"Hiroshima\" series was created to illustrate a limited edition of \"Hiroshima,\" by John Hersey, a book that details the history and aftermath of the dropping of the atomic bomb. Lawrence set out to imagine a series of events taking place at the moment the bomb was dropped on Aug. 6 1945. Lawrence depicted Hiroshima life in a marketplace, a playground, a park, a street scene, a family scene, a scene of a boy with a kite and a scene of a man with birds. \"Not a particular country, not a particular city and not a particular people,\" Lawrence wrote of the \"Hiroshima\" works. The prints of \"Toussaint L\'Ouverture\" are based on a series of paintings Lawrence created in the 1930s. Toussaint L\'Ouverture was a leader of the Haitian revolution in the late 18th century. Born as a slave, he eventually commanded the island\'s revolutionary army. Toussaint L\'Ouverture organized the effort to create Haiti\'s first democratic constitution. Two years later, in 1802, L\'Ouverture was arrested by French troops and he was imprisoned in Paris, where he died a year later. In 1804 Haiti became the first black Western republic. In both his paintings and prints, Lawrence draws deeply from personal experience, whether he is depicting the struggle for civil rights, the postwar migration of African-Americans from the South to northern urban centers, or a happy day near his home. His overarching theme is to show a common struggle toward unity and equality. Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, N.J. in 1917 and grew up in Harlem in New York City. As a young man he took art classes at the College Art Association and the Works Progress Administration. He received a scholarship to the American Artists School and worked on the Federal Art Project. By the 1940s Lawrence was a nationally known artist. He was the first African-American artist to have a painting accepted into the permanent collection of New York\'s Museum of Modern Art. He also earned a one-person show at the museum in 1944. He lived most of his life in New York City and then worked as a professor of art at the University of Washington, Seattle from 1971 to 1983. He received the National Medal of Arts in 1990, the NAACP Annual Great Artists Award in 1990 and the Springarn Medal in 1970. The Juniata College Museum of Art is located in historic Carnegie Hall at 17th and Moore streets in Huntingdon. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. For more information, please call the museum at (814) 641-3505, or visit the Juniata College Web site at http://www.juniata.edu/museum.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.