Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy
African American artists Hale Woodruff and Nancy Elizabeth Prophet both worked in Paris before they become colleagues in Atlanta. When Woodruff began teaching drawing and painting at Atlanta University in 1931 he opened a new era of art instruction. After Prophet arrived to teach sculpture in 1934, the art offerings expanded exponentially. By the mid-1930s, the Coordinated Art Program at Atlanta University Center was the place in the southeast for African Americans to study art. This generously illustrated book considers the artists' lives and their impact as teachers and mentors.
Hale Woodruff (1900-1980) was born in Cairo, Illinois. After briefly attending the Herron Art School and the Art Institute of Chicago, he took a job at the Senate Avenue YMCA in Indianapolis, where he met some of the leading figures of the time, including W. E. B. DuBois, Charles S. Johnson, Walter White, and Countee Cullen. After winning several prizes for his drawings, he left for Paris in 1927. When he joined the newly formed Atlanta University Center, he viewed teaching as his chance to impart a sense of cultural and social responsibility to his students and encouraged them to portray black experience in America honestly. The annual exhibition he initiated became the most important national exhibition for African American artists.
Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (1890-1960) was born and raised in Warwick, Rhode Island, and in 1918 became the first African American to graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1922 she went to Paris, where she studied under the acclaimed sculptor Victor Joseph Jean Ambrose Segoffin and received the prestigious Otto Kahn and Greenough prizes. She was associated with the New Negro Movement, which called on African American artists to learn from African practitioners and to develop their own cultural style. Her arrival in Atlanta added the three-dimensional component necessary for the Atlanta University Center to initiate a degree-granting program in art.
Amalia K. Amakiis the curator of the Paul R. Jones Collection and assistant professor of art and Black American studies at the University of Delaware.Andrea D. Barnwellis the director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta.