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Loïs Mailou Jones textile design
Loïs Mailou Jones (1905-1998) is a legend for so many reasons. A successful black American artist, world traveler, and art professor who inspired thousands of students, her lifetime was replete with remarkable achievements. Her early work, including more than 30 studies and textile designs, is currently exhibited at the school of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Some of these works are on display for the first time at the museum's Grossman Gallery. The collection represents a 10-year period from 1927, when Ms. Jones graduated from the school of the Museum of Fine Arts and studied at the Designers Art School in Boston, to 1937, seven years after she began her teaching career at Howard University in Washington D.C.
Loïs Mailou Jones, Design for Cretonne Drapery Fabric #15 "Cabris," undated. Tempera. Photo Courtesy of the Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noël Trust.
Ms. Jones's foray in textile design is an example of her unusual versatility as an artist. While some of us may recognize her landscape paintings of the Vineyard, her family's summer residence and her inspiration from childhood, Ms. Jones was an artist who knew no bounds. As a painter, she was proficient in watercolor, oil, and acrylic mediums. She also excelled in various artistic disciplines, such as portraiture, illustrations, and still lifes. In examining the breadth of her work, which drew upon the artist's many cultural experiences, one discovers extraordinary freshness and individualism; she never allowed one style to dominate or characterize her work and limit her creativity.
The multi-faceted artist Loïs Mailou Jones in front of one of her paintings. Image by MOD Mekkawi / courtesy of Moorland-
Spingarn research center, HowARd university
Jones's early experience in textile design was not only the catalyst for her shift to fine art, it also helped establish her later work. Much like her designs, her artistry is often structured on strong color sense and repeating elements. Through talent and hard work Loïs Mailou Jones found new applications for these vibrant and unifying threads, all woven into the fabric that was her life, her art.
"The Early Work: Paintings and Patterns 1927-1937," on view through October 14 at Grossman Gallery at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 230 The Fenway. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm; closed Sundays and holidays. Admission is free.