Aug 302015

Noted African American artist, educator, and art historian, Samella Lewis is well-known for her colorful paintings and prints, but this extraordinary artwork is something altogether different: a deft preparatory sketch for a self-protrait, quickly and expertly executed on a simple, humble piece of paper, and certainly never intended to be anything more than a captured ephemeral moment — perhaps to be given to a friend visiting her studio. Created and dated in 1971, over forty years later, this sketch still retains its powerful charm and indelible character, and represents a rare glimpse into the artistry and technique of a living legend, now 91 years old. In fact, this portrait is one of her most iconic images, and the artist can be seen rendering this very face yet again, all these years later, in this video honoring her achievements during Black History Month in 2012. (The following image is a still from that same video.)

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