Tag: Ebony Magazine

Chicago Cultural Center Features Exhibition on African American Designers that Explore Art, Commerce and Politics of Race

A selection of materials from Charles Dawson: an advertisement for Slick Black, O Sing a New Song, plus Together for Victory by an unknown designer. (Composite: James Prinz Photography, Chicago)

by  via theguardian.com

The first known African American female cartoonist was Jackie Ormes, who not only penned cartoon strips throughout the 1940s and 1950s, but designed a black doll called the Patty-Jo doll, which was released in 1947.

The Patty-Jo doll by Jackie Ormes. (Photograph: Courtesy of Nancy Goldstein)

Patty-Jo, a precursor to Barbie, which came in 1959, was based on a cartoon strip character of the same name, had an extensive wardrobe with preppy shoes, winter coats and ball gowns – and had the brains to go with it.

In a cartoon strip from 1948, Patty-Jo asks a white woman: “How’s about getting our rich Uncle Sam to put good public schools all over so we can be trained fit for any college?”

The doll is on view in a new exhibition in Chicago, African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race, at the Chicago Cultural Center. Featuring more than 50 design works, it highlights prominent black figures who worked between 1900 and 1980 in graphic design, editorial and product design, billboard ads, and created the first black-founded ad agency.

The seeds of the exhibit were planted in the 1990s, when University of Illinois professor Victor Margolin started to explore a gap in the history of American design.

“Margolin was one of the first scholars who asked why there has been a lack of scholarship on African American designers,” said the exhibition curator Daniel Schulman. “He went into the field and interviewed 25 designers who were active from 1930s to 1980s, many of which are in the exhibit.”

With a focus exclusively on Chicago designers, it highlights artists who shaped the look of black publications like the Chicago Defender and the Johnson publishing house, founded in 1942 by African American business mogul John H. Johnson, which founded Jet and Ebony magazines alongside the now-defunct Black World, Ebony Man and Black Stars.

“Our thesis is that Chicago is a special center for design for African Americans because it was one of the major sites in the north they came to from the rural south in mid-20th century,” said Schulman. “It has a large, vibrant and politically powerful design community.”

Among the works in the exhibit is an original Patty-Jo doll designed and produced by Ormes, who was a cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Courier, though she lived in Chicago. The doll, in a yellow dress, was highly coveted by African American girls, though it was so expensive, parents had to pay in instalments.

“The doll was noteworthy for its quality. Its facial features were hand-painted and designed from life-like materials,” said Schulman. “It was a role model for any child.”

It ties into the cartoons Ormes built around the Patty-Jo character. “She was a beautiful fictional character who was known for making witty, astute remarks about the world around African American middle-class people in the 1940s and 1950s,” said Schulman. “The doll was in production for 10 years, it had an extraordinary presence and power, and today, they’re collectibles holding an importance place in American doll-making.”

Among the other designers in the exhibit, there are advertisements by Charles C. Dawson, who designed the graphics promoting Slick Black, black hair color tins from the 1930. Dawson was also part of the New Negro art movement, which surfaced around the same time as the Harlem Renaissance black arts movement in New York.

In 1971, the first African American-owned advertising agency was co-founded by Emmett McBain and Thomas J. Burrell. Burrell McBain Advertising boasted clients such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

“It was enormously important,” said Schulman. “It was one of first black-owned firms to land major national accounts like cigarette manufacturers and campaigns for companies that included African Americans in mainstream roles on TV and in magazines, which brought their image to a broader public. It was a new and powerful conception of black commercial, political and social power.”

A 1963 issue of Ebony, with Frederick Douglass on the cover. (Photograph: James Prinz Photography)

“Instead of having contemporary life portrayed with celebrities or ordinary people, this cover looks back on 100 years of the emancipation proclamation,” said Schulman. “It shows Ebony engaged with civil rights.”

Also on view is a comic called “Home Folks” by Jay Jackson, a cartoonist for the Chicago Defender who won several awards for his cartoons made during the second world war. A panel on view called Debt and Taxes shows one character complaining: “What do they mean ‘income tax’? It should be ‘outgo’ tax!”

“It’s a masterpiece,” said Schulman. “It shows young, middle-class African Americans in a wonderful mid-century modern interior talking about how expensive things are, the dream of prosperity that was commonplace as a selling technique in the 1950s, this mass consumer market and postwar prosperity. In popular media, you don’t always see African Americans taking part of a stream of plenty in the 1950s.”

But ambition aside, it was tough for African Americans to break into the advertising industry, not to mention navigating the office culture once they were there. “It’s really about working in a field with so few African Americans designers in it,” said Schulman. “There are images that show how frustrating it could be in such a tiny minority in this field – there is one image of Eugene Winslow in his office with commentary that shows he was unhappy being a supervisor of an all-white staff who did not appreciate having a black supervisor.”

Though this showcase of pre-digital design ends in the year 1980, it still is a triumph, especially considering many ephemeral pieces of graphic design from the past were lost.

“It’s not an encyclopedia, it’s an introduction,” said Schulman. “What we’re trying to demonstrate here is the lasting influence and effectiveness of the visual arts and design throughout the 20th century in Chicago.”

African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Raceis on display at the Chicago Cultural Center until March 3, 2019.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/nov/08/black-design-chicago-art-commerce-politics-race?CMP=share_btn_link

EBONY Unveils Powerful December Cover With Harry Belafonte, Jesse Williams, and Zendaya

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Fresh off its provocative, internet breaking Cosby Show cover, the folks over at EBONY are at it again.

Celebrating the magazine’s 70th anniversary, editor-in-chief Kierna Mayo and company just unveiled the cover for the December issue, which asks readers to #StandForSomething.

The image features actor and civil rights legend Harry Belafonte flanked by the next generation of socially conscious celebs, Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams and Disney’s Zendaya Coleman.

So far, people are loving the look of latest issue. Ava DuVernay called it “epic” and Michaela Angela David said it helps understand the heritage of the social justice movement.

article via clutchmagonline.com

“Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair” Exhibit at Milwaukee Art Museum through May 3rd

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For those who haven’t had a chance to catch this traveling show honoring 50 Years of the Ebony Fashion Fair, there is still time for anyone in or travelling to Milwaukee, WI between now and May 3 to do so at the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Originally displayed at the Chicago History Museum, “Inspiring Beauty” has been hosted by the Museum of Design in Atlanta as well.

According to Wikipedia, The Ebony Fashion Fair was founded in 1958 by Eunice Johnson and featured male and female models of mostly African-American descent modeling fashions from top European designers such as: Yves St Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino and Emanuel Ungaro. The show raised $55 million for African-American charities. The show ended after the 2009 fair due to the death of Eunice Johnson in January 2010.

To learn more about the show or buy tickets online, click here.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

 

Ophelia DeVore, Founder of 1st Black Modeling Agency, Donates Papers to Emory University

Ophelia DeVore
Ophelia DeVore was a model-turned-entrepreneur, launching a modeling agency, charm school and cosmetics line, and taking the helm of the Columbus Times in Columbus, Ga., after her husband’s death in 1972. She remains the paper’s owner today. (Photo credit: Ophelia DeVore papers, MARBL, Emory University.)

ATLANTA, Ga. — The founder of one of America’s first modeling agencies to represent women of color has placed her papers at Emory University.

Pioneering entrepreneur Ophelia DeVore Mitchell set up the New-York-based Grace Del Marco in 1946 at a time when it was almost unthinkable for black women to be recognized in the media for their beauty.

In its early days, the groundbreaking agency paved the way for African-Americans to pursue careers in the fashion and entertainment industries.

Agency launched black superstars

Indeed, the agency and modeling school helped launch the early careers of actresses Diahann Carroll and Cicely Tyson.

It also represented people such as Gail Fisher; Richard Roundtree; Trudy Haynes, one of the first black female TV reporters; and Helen Williams, one of the first African-American fashion models to break into the mainstream.

DeVore’s extensive collection consists of thousands of items, from photos to scrapbooks relating to her time at the helm of the agency, to lengthy correspondence from her other business ventures.

In an interview with theGrio, DeVore, who is surprisingly lucid for her 92 years, says when she co-founded Grace Del Marco, “people of color didn’t even count in the beauty industry, not just in America, but across the world.”

Her drive,  she says, came from her own personal experiences working briefly as a model, mainly for Ebony Magazine, from the age of 16.

Though DeVore is of mixed-race origin, the South-Carolina-born beauty became acutely aware of how black people were depicted in the media and subsequently made it her mission to change these images.

Two years later, in 1948, Devore established the Ophelia DeVore School of Charm, where young black women learned etiquette, poise and posture, speech and ballet, and self-presentation.

The archives, which span from the 1940s to 1990s, document the changing attitudes and images of non-whites in the beauty industry, says DeVore’s son, James D. Carter, who took over the charm school for a number of years and later ran other aspects of the Devore businesses.

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