Mural

Charles White

1978. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Exposition Park Branch, Los Angeles Public Library. Exposition and 36th Street.

The following text is from a handout distributed by the library:

In this symbolic oil on canvas, which claims as its central theme education and learning, artist Charles White has portrayed a younger Mary Bethune surrounded by a small family. To the observer's left is the father strumming a guitar, a visual representation of Dr. Bethune's love for music, which she felt was important to cultural development. In the center panel, below Dr. Bethune, is the young student reading. The ABC chart (elementary education) is open in front of him. The third panel portrays the final component of the family unit, the mother. Earth tones throughout, and the occurrence of geometric forms, reflect the African heritage of the group. Prominent throughout the background is Dr. Bethune's Last Will and Testament. The mural, which is approximately 5 feet by 7 feet, took Mr. White about nine months to complete. He calls it his labor of love-an apt description for such a work, for which the City of Los Angeles paid him a mere $3,000.

The artist retains exclusive rights to print, publish and to copy this work of art.

Charles White: Born April 2, 1918, in Chicago, Illinois. his mother was a domestic worker, his father a railroad and construction worker. Biographers claim him to have been an avid user of public libraries as a young man, and a particularly inspired reader of Alain Locke's The new Negro. At age seven,his mother bought him some paints. By age 14 he was painting signs, earning enough money to belong to an Arts and Crafts Guild-a group of aspiring black artists who pooled their money to pay for one member each week to take an art lesson at the Chicago Art Institute. On his return, the lucky one taught the others what he had learned.

1937-Won scholarship to Art Institute of Chicago
1938-41 Employed by Federal Arts Project of WPA in Chicago
1941-Received Rosenwald Fellowship
1943-Painted famous mural at Hapton Institute
1945-Was artist in residence at Howard University
1947-Studied at Taller de Graffica... in Mexico City 1955-Received John Hay Whitney Foundation Opportunity Fellowship
1965-Taught at Otis Art Institute
1969-Received Dr. of Art from Columbia College, Chicago.


Back to South Central Murals