Jessica Johnson, NOMA’s Creative Aging and Access Coordinator, shares one of her favorite works in Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club—a painting by Gwendolyn Knight of the artist’s birthplace of Barbados.
Knight traveled with Jacob Lawrence to Nigeria during his second visit to the country in 1964. The couple traveled to Lagos, Ibadan, and Osogbo, meeting artists and painting, and artworks by Knight from this time have not been found.
Although Knight left Barbados for the United States as a child, she held dual citizenship. (Barbados was a British protectorship.) It was her British passport that enabled her to go to Nigeria after the U.S. State Department denied her visa.
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Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club was made possible in part by major funding from National Endowment for the Humanities, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Getty Foundation Paper Project, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the IFPDA Foundation. The Wyeth Foundation for American Art provided support for the exhibition catalogue.