The Howard University Gallery of Art and the HU Art Department hosted a Birthday Celebration for Loïs Mailou Jones on Wednesday, November 3, 2010. Former students, professors, friends, and associates of Loïs Mailou Jones were invited to regale visitors with their recollections and stories about the artist and their relationship with her over the years. There were many memorable quotes from the event:
“Loïs Mailou Jones, for me, represented female strength. There were a lot of men in the department at HU at the time, and she was a strong female presence.” –Martha Jackson Jarvis
“At the end of class, she would arrange our paintings at the front of the room and ask, ‘What shall we give this one? A one, a two, or a three?’ Whoever received the one, two, or three spots could keep the fruit [from the still life painting exercise].” –Teresia Bush
“A standard was set. She demanded that respect. I did well in her classes because I was afraid not to, but at the same time, there was love.” –Akili Ron Anderson
To conclude the storytelling portion of the celebration, Starmanda Bullock presented the catalogue from Loïs Mailou Jones’s 1972 exhibition at the Howard University Gallery of Art, 40 Years of Painting, which she’d located for the occasion. She read from the introduction by David Driskell, in which he recalled a favorite quote of Loïs Mailou Jones: “You must learn to love your art as though you are married to it.” Afterward, visitors and listeners were invited next door for a slice of birthday cake and a champagne toast.
–Melanie J. Spears, a graduate of Howard University, is Research Assistant at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center focusing on Prints and Photographs.