Loïs Mailou Jones (1905-1998) painting in her Paris studio in 1937 or 1938 as her cat hangs out on her shoulder. Born in Boston, her mother, Carolyn Dorinda Jones was a hat designer and a beautician, and her father, Thomas Vreeland Jones, was an office building superintendent before becoming a lawyer at age forty. Ms. Jones was encouraged by both parents to pursue art and she graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1927. After studying art at Harvard and Columbia, she established the art department at Palmer Memorial Institute, the black preparatory school founded by Charlotte Hawkins Brown in Sedalia, North Carolina. Ms. Jones then moved on to Howard University in 1930 and remained there until 1977. Photo: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Can you name five women artists? 

To celebrate #WomensHistoryMonth, we’re joining @womeninthearts and museums around the world in a project to call attention to women artists! Follow along (and suggest your favorites) as we highlight artists in our collection, starting with Loïs Mailou Jones. 

Deeply inspired by African heritage and traditions at various points in her long career, she also traveled widely—to France, Haiti, and Africa—each of these places influencing her work in turn. #5WomenArtists 

“Les Fétiches,” 1938, by Loïs Mailou Jones. via Instagram 

After her graduation from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA), in 1927, Loїs Mailou Jones embarked on a successful career as a textile designer before earning international recognition as a celebrated American painter and noted scholar and teacher. Loїs Mailou Jones: The Early Works: Paintings and Patterns 1927–1937, which focuses on the textile designs and studies Jones created at the outset of her career, was on view in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Grossman Gallery in 2006.


Loïs Mailou Jones illuminates the very different realities for African-American men in the Early 20th Century. Dans un Café á Paris, 1939, depicts a black man enjoying lunch with glass of wine in a Parisian cafe while Mob Victim (meditation), 1944, shows a black man on the other side of the Atlantic contemplating the fate of his soul before being hung by a lynch mob in the Southern United States. One era, two very different realities. Realities that persuaded the artist herself to voyage to France in 1937.


Loïs Mailou Jones interviewed on Good Morning America at the age of 90 for Black History Month.