Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Allen Stringfellow: "Story Board" 1991 to 2003


Allen Stringfellow was born July 9th, 1923 in Champaign, Illinois. The son of a nightclub singer and a jazz guitarist, he was raised by his deeply religious great-grandmother. These musical and religious ties would later factor greatly in his body of work. Inspired by such artists as Romare Bearden, William S. Carter, and Jacob Lawrence, all of whom he met during the Great Depression’s WPA program, Stringfellow primarily focused on collage and watercolors, and occasionally papier mache sculptures. Known for his use of vibrant colors and predilection for red, Stringfellow depicted lively narrative scenes with musical, religious and  ordinary every day themes. Families, musicians and dancers seem to move and are given life through Stringfellow’s undeniably fun execution. His characters are exuberant and at times quite flamboyant, but subjects are all real people set in clubs, block parties, formal balls, homes, picnics, teas and lawns. All of which were drawn from his life of rich personal experiences. His compositions range from the figurative to surrealist abstraction. One major theme explored in Stringfellow’s later career was the black middle class, in which he depicted an elegant accomlished life led by urbane African Americans.  A video oral history of Stringfellow's artistic life was recorded in 2001 by The History Makers in Chicago.  The Krannert Museum in Champaign, the second largest art museum in Illinois,  opened a major exhibit of Allen's work on June 4th, 2004. Allen passed away on June 22nd that same year. His works have been exhibited in  the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Historical Society, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Katzen Museum of American University and The Bank of America Corporate Center. Also, his art is part of the collections of  the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, The College of William and Mary, The Schomburg and the Studio Museum.

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