Black News and News Makers in History: Laura Wheeler Waring

African American news - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Laura Wheeler Waring this week in Black history.Laura Wheeler (Waring) was born in Hartford, Connecticut on December 3, 1887 the daughter of college-educated Rev. Robert Wheeler, who had for two years been pastor of the Talcott Street Congregational Church, home of Connecticut's first Black congregation. Originally called the African Religious Society, the members built their church in 1826, and housed fugitive slaves before the end of the Civil War. The church began operating a public school in 1829, and it was the only place in the city where Black children could learn to read and write. They also learned their African history at a time when most black children were not being taught to read at all.

Flooded in that illustrious past, young Waring flourished in the exposure to her people's culture and history. She graduated from Hartford High School in 1906 with honors and spent the next six years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1914 and getting a scholarship to study in Europe.

In 1924, she studied Expressionism and the Romantics at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, a popular Paris workshop/studio.

African American news - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Lauara Wheeler Waring this week in history - still life painting by Laura WaringWhile supporting herself as a teacher, she also painted, receiving acclaim as a portrait artist, but also created landscapes and still lifes.

Between 1927 and 1931, Waring's work was displayed at several institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Art Institute of Chicago. Her illustrations depicting African American subjects appeared in several books and magazines.

In 1943, the Harmon Foundation, a New York City organization developed to recognize the achievements of African Americans, commissioned Waring to paint the series Portraits of Outstanding American Citizens of Negro Origin. Among her well-known portrait subjects for this project were W.E.B. DuBois, George Washington Carver, Marian Anderson, and James Weldon Johnson. She is also remembered for her portraits of Anne Washington Derry and a portrait called "Frankie" also known as "Portrait of a Child."

In the late 1920s, she married Walter Waring, a professor at Lincoln University in Philadelphia.

In a time when African American women were a silent force in American arts, Laura Wheeler Waring quietly set standards for dignity in portraiture. In an era when few African-American women attended school, Waring finished high school and college. Also unusual for the time, few who escaped to Europe seldom returned to America, however Waring did return to start an arts department in a traditionally Black college.

Waring made several more trips to study in Europe, but her main focus on returning home in the late 1920s was to make art education available to Black students at the historically Black Cheyney State Teachers College in Pennsylvania, now Cheyney University. In her thirty years there, she organized and directed both music and art departments until her death on February 3, 1948.
One year after her death, the Howard University Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., held an exhibit of her work.

Compiled from http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/laura-waring-portrait-artist-style and http://www.biography.com/articles/Laura-Wheeler-Waring-38504.