Aaron Douglas: The Father of Black American Art
by Kayla Hollis, age 11
Aaron Douglas, also known as “the father of black American art,” was an amazing artist who made brightly colored abstract and geometric paintings. His paintings depicted the lives of African Americans and the hardships they faced. He won many awards because of his ability to create such powerful artwork, and he was an important contributor to the Harlem Rennaissance.
Aaron Douglas, an African American, was born on May 26, 1899. When Douglas was just a little kid, he was inspired by his mother’s paintings because of the bright and bold colors she used. Later when he started painting, he used some of his mother’s techniques to create his own art.
After graduating from high school, Douglas attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he earned a degree in Fine Arts. Shortly after, Douglas moved to New York, where he began his career doing illustrations for many writers. He also took time to study African and modern art.
During the 1930’s Douglas made some of his best paintings, was given the opportunity to make a mural for the library at Fisk University, and soon held the first of many solo art shows. Shortly thereafter he began one of his most important pieces, a set of four murals called “Aspects of Negro Life.” Each mural represented a different part of the black experience, using the influences of jazz music, and abstract and geometric art.
As a result of Douglas’ hard work and major contributions to the Harlem Renaissance, President John F. Kennedy invited him to a celebration of the Centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Aaron Douglas actively painted until his death in February 1979. He was 79 years old. Since Douglas was close to Fisk University and worked there for 27 years, they held a special memorial service in his honor. Douglas will always be remembered as an accomplished artist who was able to capture the history and struggles of African American experiences and presented them to the world in a unique way that people hadn’t seen before.