African American Museum reopens with pioneering exhibit, free museum days for Juneteenth

The African American Museum in Philadelphia has reopened its doors with a celebration of a pioneering artist who was often overlooked.

Karen Rogers has the story in this week's 6abc Loves the Arts.

"Anna Russell Jones: The Art of Design" details the life of the Philadelphia artist and innovator.

"Tremendous artist, the detail of her watercolor, that would then be translated into textiles, like rugs and wallpaper," explains the Director of Programming at the museum, James Claiborne.

The exhibition was supposed to open last year.

Claiborne continues, "We had this exhibition mounted and ready to open and...our doors shuttered for a year, but we're back."

As an artist in the early 20th century, Jones made history.

"She was the first African American to graduate what is now Moore College of the Arts, who eventually gave her an honorary doctorate," describes James.

She's known for her intricate floral patterns and modern geometrical designs that were groundbreaking at the time.

James furthers, "You see the math that's happening and the precision that's happening with her execution is really astounding. "

Jones, an industrial entrepreneur with her own studio and clients, often went unrecognized.

"I think in a time where, where life could be difficult...she stands as a testament of what resilience and brilliance can do," declares James.

She also served as a civil service illustrator.

"She enrolled in the armed forces and served in World War Two. She went to Howard University and was part of their medical college as a medical illustrator," James continues.

And she translated her detailed style to human anatomy.

"The way she articulated skulls...and the hearts and organs, there's a there's a really beautiful dance," proclaims James.

The museum is participating in this year's WAWA Welcome American and as part of the celebration admission is free next Saturday, to mark Juneteenth.

"June 19, we will host a outdoor celebration...exploring the history and the meaning of Juneteenth for youth and families...and then come inside and see what Anna Russell Jones did with her life," invites James.

--

African American Museum in Philadelphia | Instagram | Facebook
701 Arch Street, Seventh, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania"
Anna Russell Jones: The Art of Design" is on view through September 12th. Tickets are timed due to COVID.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.