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Role Lois Mailou Jones in Harlem Renaissance

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During the 1920’s Lois was a positive influence on the world through the Harlem Renaissance. She painted African American traditions, styles, and themes. Her artwork was displayed in museums for everyone to see. Jones was also a teacher at Howards University for almost half a century.

Early Life

“Visual artist Lois Mailou Jones was born in 1905 in Boston, Massachusetts” (The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed). “Lois’s father, Thomas Vreeland, worked two jobs one as a building superintendent and another as a lawyer” ( Famous Birthdays) and Lois’s mother, Carolyn Jones was a cosmetologist, specifically, she was a hairdresser ( Famous Birthdays). Lois’s parents enlisted Lois into the High School of Practical Arts and encouraged her to major in art, which she eventually did. When Lois turned 17 she had her very first exhibition by herself on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts (Cotter).

Education or early professional careers

“ Jones decided she wanted to carry forward her tuition at Boston Normal School of Arts and Designers Art School in Boston, so she did just that, Jones graduated from Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1927 (The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed)”. Lois Mailou Jones was a painter, book illustrator, an art teacher, and a costume designer” (Ramirez). As Lois taught at Howard University she taught writings from LMJ, photography, brochures, and many more things.


“Lois is well known as an American painter and instructor whose work follows an abroad diverse style. Her work goes from a common scene to an African themed reflection” Encyclopædia Britannica).

Motivation or inspiration behind her work

“In 1938 Lois created African styled masks and also painted Les Fétiches. Jone’s art imitated the influences of African tradition” (Encyclopædia Britannica). The Les Fétiches has five different kinds of masks in the painting. The mask in the middle is oval and the other masks in the painting are either circular, oval or square shaped.

Harlem Renaissance connection and/or influence on African American culture

“Jones’s artistry is about mimicking and grasping African America and its expanding legacy with skill and culture at a time when just copying African American was the main idea” (cook). “Lois was the first and only African American that broke the discrimination limit refusing African Americans the right to show viewable art at open and private galleries and museums in the United States” (Harris).

Additional information

Lois Mailou Jones and Vergniaud Pierre-Noel, a Haitian artist, was married in 1953 (Ramirez). One of Lois’s close friends is a Dorothy West, an author ( Famous Birthdays). Lois Mailou Jones was the first African American to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (Biography). Unfortunately, Lois died of a cardiac arrest on June 9th, 1998 (World History).

Lois Mailou Jones was a positive influence on the world through the Harlem Renaissance. She painted African American traditions, styles, and themes. She was inspired by many African American traditions but she also created a canvas called “My Mother’s Hats” that was inspired by one of her mother’s artful headwear. Lois was very confident about what she wanted to do with her life, every opportunity she had she took it.

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