Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color

Intervior view of the museum galleries features a vibrant blue wall with the text 'Lois Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color'. Multiple artworks are displayed in the background.
Oct 09, 2010, to Jan 09, 2011

Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color examines the prolific, seven-decade career of Loïs Mailou Jones (1905-1998), a pioneering and accomplished mid-century artist and teacher who remains a source of inspiration to many artists. Her oeuvre remains a substantial and remarkable contribution to the world of American art.

Comprised of more than 70 works, the exhibition spans Jones’ career from the late Harlem Renaissance to her contemporary synthesis of African, Caribbean, American, and African-American iconography. Included are items from the artist’s estate such as paintings, drawings, and textile designs, as well as prominent works from public and private collections.

Jones began her career at a time when racial prejudices and gender discrimination were pervasive features in American culture. Despite these barriers, she triumphed with a long and productive life devoted to her craft. She received recognition in her lifetime through exhibitions and representation in important museum collections.

Over her career as a painter, Jones explored a wealth of styles and subject matter. Her skillful observation and inspiration from nature is revealed in the colorful landscapes of Martha’s Vineyard, traditional still lifes of fruits and flowers, as well as the winding streets and verdant countryside of Northern France where she traveled in the 1930s. Throughout the sweep of her 70 years as a painter, Jones continued to produce figurative and narrative paintings that explored both personal and social themes.

Semi-abstract composition in shades of blue, orange, yellow, green, grey, white and burgundy. In the center, an orange oval with a black and white eye in the center, supported by symmetrical strips of semi-circles and diamonds. Vertical blocks of color reach upwards on both sides.

Loïs Mailou Jones, Ode to Kinshasa, 1972; Mixed media on canvas, 48 x 36 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the artist; © Loïs Mailou Jones

Exhibition Sponsors

Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color is organized by the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC, in collaboration with the Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust, and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. Lead support was provided by Walmart with additional support from Lois Lehrman Grass, National Endowment for the Arts, Verizon Communications, and ESSENCE.