Jan 15, 2014

Artist's Life #2

Artist's Life #2


Hughie Lee-Smith

(American, 1915-1999)


Created by the Federal Art Project, Works Progress Administration and lent by the Fine Arts Collection of the U.S. General Services Administration 4231.1942



Artist’s Life #2 reveals Lee-Smith’s conflict in choosing between the peaceful seclusion of the artist’s studio and the harsh realities of the real world, symbolized by the confrontation between baton-wielding police officers and picket-line demonstrators. The lithograph questions the morality of deciding upon a career painting nude models during a period of economic instability and social turmoil. Lee-Smith, as well as Elmer Brown, William Smith, and Charles Sallée Jr., were all involved with Cleveland’s Karamu House, an interracial cultural center founded in 1915 that offered access to printmaking facilities and instruction. The Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project funded the hiring of teachers at neighborhood organizations like Karamu House. Previously barred from such opportunities by racial discrimination, many African American artists learned printmaking techniques at WPA workshops as well as community centers.

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