Art Works Blog

Finding Beauty in the Archives

When you work at the NEA, rummaging through old photo files feels like leafing through a scrapbook of the country’s artistic history. In honor of Black History Month, we’ve pulled together a few stunning examples of work done by African-American artists whom we’ve funded through the years. The photos were taken from our digital files and decades-old hard-copy archives, and showcase individuals and organizations that have beautifully altered the cultural landscape of the United States.

Lula Washington and members of the Lula Washington Youth Dance Ensemble. Photo courtesy of the Lula Washington Dance Theatre

Children are shown the many similarities between traditional African dance forms and today's popular dances by Betty Jean Jackson during a workshop presented by Urban Gateways: The Center for Arts in Education. Photo © Avis Mandel Pictures

A performance of Balante by the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago. The performance was part of the organization's 2011 fall concert series, "Spice It Up." Photo by Marc Monaghan
The Pin Strip Band of New Orleans jams in Piedmont Park during the 1994 National Black Arts Festival. Photo by Glen Frieson

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s production of Bill T. Jones’ Still/Here. Photo by Beatriz Schiller
A performance sponsored by the Delta Blues Education Fund. From l-r: "Mr. Johnnie" Billinton, Anthony Sherrod, and Big Jack Johnson. Photo © Norman Mauskopf

A 1986 retrospective exhibition of Jacob Lawrence, organized by the Seattle Art Museum, was made possible by a grant from IBM Corporation with additional support from the NEA. The painting above is Panel No. 57 of Lawrence's Migration of the Negro series. (1940-41) Tempera on Masonite. 18 x 12 in. Collection of the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Photo by J. H. Schaefer & Son

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