A Black woman, Loïs Mailou Jones, holds an African mask in front of her face, her mouth and eyes smile softly. She has medium brown skin, dark brown hair, and deep brown eyes. Her hair is pushed back from her face and she is wearing gold hoop earrings, a delicate gold necklace with a circle charm, a navy blue blazer, light brown shirt, and brown pants. The artist stands in front of a geometric patterned background in orange, blue, yellow, and gold. Text above her reads: “Lois Mailou Jones Behind the Mask”
The cover of the comic Loïs Mailou Jones: Behind the Mask. Illustrated by Aleyah Lyon.
Despite her obvious talent, Loïs Mailou Jones struggled to begin her career at a time of acute racism. Her life and art were shaped by her experiences in Paris, Haiti and Africa. Throughout her career, Jones had championed the international artistic achievement of African-American art. She had also been an important role model for other African-American artists, particularly those involved with her design and watercolor courses at Howard University from 1930 to 1977.
This comic is part of a series Drawn to Art: Tales of Inspiring Women Artists that illuminates the stories of women artists in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Inspired by graphic novels, these short takes on artists’ lives were each drawn by a student-illustrator from the Ringling College of Art and Design.
We invite you to read the comic and share with your friends and young people in your life.