The Artistic Storyteller
"Most of my work depicts events from the many Harlems which exist throughout the United States. This is my genre... the happiness, tragedies, and the sorrows of mankind as realized in the teeming black ghetto."
Unlike any other artist, Jacob Lawrence captured cultural history through his painting. He painted scenes of great emotion using bold colors and simple subjects.
All About Lawrence
Born on September 7, 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Jacob Lawrence wasn't set up for success. He was put in foster care at the age of seven with his two younger brothers. In 1930 he moved in with his mom in Harlem and was introduced to art though an afterschool art program. In 1937, after dropping out of high school four years prior, Lawrence won a scholarship to the American Artists School in New York City which influenced the style and content of his paintings. Because of this experience, he painted sixty pieces of art, called “The Migration of the Negro” (also known as The Great Migration) between 1940 and 1941. During WWII, he was an artist for the Coast Guard, documenting the reality of war around the world. After the war, he received the Guggenheim Fellowship, which supported him while he painted his “War Series.” Later on, he was a tenured professor at Howard University, did artwork for the Apollo Theater in Harlem, and sold paintings to raise money for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Children’s Defense Fund.