American Artist Appreciation Month

August is American Artist Appreciation Month. It is never too early to learn about art, creativity, and expression. Discover activities you can do with your family at home or visit a museum such as The Met. During the month of August you can also treat yourself to a biography of Mary Cassatt or Faith Ringold and learn about their passion, influences, and styles of expression. Readers can learn about the Harlem Renaissance which helped African American artists get recognition for their contributions in the art world.

 An Artist’s America by Michael Albert
Library Collection: Print
(Grades 4-6th)

Michael Albert combined his philosophy of recycling and pop art to create beautiful collages. This book has an introduction to Michael Albert and his love of visiting museums and doodling. One of his signature collections is Sir Real: an art concept that represents caricatures of the modern art movement of surrealism.

Draw What you See: the Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson
Library Collection: Print
(Grades 3rd-6th)

Artist Benny Andrews was able to use his art for activism. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, people were displaced. Benny Andrews left his home in New York city to help the children of Louisiana. Benny taught the kids how to express themselves through art; and fought for equal rights for African American artists, who were denied opportunities to display their work at various museums. At the end of this book readers are treated to additional resources and a timeline for Benny’s art. This is a story of an incredible man who used art to heal the world.

Faith Ringgold: Narrating the World in Pattern and Color
by Sharna Jackson and Illustrated by Andrea Pippins.
Library Collection: Print
(Grades 4th-6th)

Meet Faith Ringgold: activist, artist and role model. Faith Ringgold was born in Harlem, and began her artistic journey by becoming the class artist at a very young age. Faith often visited the theater with her mother to see Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. She became interested in blending activism with her art since racism and sexism limited many artists. Faith’s paintings reflected the political upheaval at the time. Faith Ringgold also experimented with different artistic styles such as quilts and masks. A wonderful introduction to the life of Faith Ringgold.

Harlem Renaissance Artists by Denise Jordan
Library Catalog: Print
(Grades 4th-6th)

In Harlem Renaissance Artists readers learn about the history of one of the most important artistic eras in America. Readers meet artists such as Lois Mailou Jones. Like Cassatt, Jones also was influenced by the impressionist era. Lois Mailou Jones won numerous awards and is known for her love of teaching art. Learn more about Lois Malou and other artists through exploring Harlem Renaissance Artists.

Great American Artists for Kids
Library Catalog: Print
(Grades 4th-6th)

Great American Artists for kids features over 75 American artists such as Keith Haring, Ruth Asawa, and Kara Walker. Each artist is accompanied by a brief biography, their favorite art game, and an activity. Readers will learn about Keith Haring who was a grass roots artist that drew on empty black papers on subways. Keith Haring’s favorite game is playing musical chairs while drawing collectively with a group of kids. The activity that kids can try out at home is the subway chalk activity. A marvelous book for art enthusiasts and those who teach STEAM.

The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art by Cynthia Levinson
Library Catalog: Print
(Grades 3rd-6th)

Art and activism often work together to bring attention and awareness to issues of justice, equity and human rights. Ben Shahn grew up witnessing injustice in Lithuania. His father was banished by the Czar for demanding justice for workers’ rights. When Ben and his family moved to America, Ben was bullied because he was Jewish. Ben was keenly aware of injustice after two people were executed for a murder they did not commit. Afterwards, Ben stories of people who were fighting for civil rights, fair pay and political protest. The end includes an author’s note and a timeline of Ben Shahn’s life. An inspiring biography of a man who changed the world through his art.

Come Look With Me: Discovering African American Art by James Haywood Rolling
Library Collection: Print
(Grades 3rd-6th)

Come Look with Me is a wonderful book that explores different African American artists. Readers will appreciate artists such as Henry Ossawa Tanner who painted The Banjo Lesson. Much like Cassatt and Degas, this painting portrays a child in an artistic moment. Another amazing artistic piece is titled Harriet, which illustrates Harriet leading her family and friends into freedom. This is a gem of a book for art enthusiasts and for any child who wants to learn about African American art.

Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures by Jane O’ Connor
Library Collection: Print
(Grades 3rd-6th)

This is a wonderful biography of Mary Cassatt’s life. Mary Cassatt was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. Mary Cassatt lived her life mostly in Paris and became influenced
the impressionists such as Degas. Eventually, Cassatt also exhibited her work among other impressionists. One of the key components of Cassatt’s focus was family. She often painted mothers with their babies, families in beautiful gardens and children lounging in chairs. At the end of the book the author shows the readers her favorite painting and poses three questions she would ask of Cassatt today.

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe
Library Collection: Print
(Grades 4th-6th)

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe is the true story of Jean Michel Basquiat. The book illustrates Basquiat’s life by using collage like images of Basquiat’s beginnings in Brooklyn. Basquiat dreamt of becoming an artist. Readers learn that Jean-Michel drew from morning until night amidst a storm of papers. At night, as he slept, Jean Basquiat would wake to draw down his deepest dreams. Basquiat learned art from his mother who had Afro-Caribbean roots and took her son to museums for inspiration. A wonderful book that explores the early days of Jean Michel Basquiat. Did you know that as a young man, Basquiat spray painted his art under the name of Samoo?

Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert and Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newtown
Library Collection: Print
(Grades 1st-3rd)

Harriet Powers was a slave and lived through the Civil War. Life wasn’t easy for her but she was able to express herself with a needle and thread. Harriet learned that wild indigo made blue and hickory bark made brown. She was also able to provide for her family. A wonderful poetic book that uses patchwork as pictures to portray an artist’s biography. If you love to work with textile and want to learn about quilting Sewing Stories is a wonderful read.

Little People Big Dreams-Andy Warhol by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Timothy Hunt
Library Collection: Print
(Grades 1st-3rd)

Little People, Big Dreams is a wonderful series that highlights the biography of activists, writers and artists. Andy Warhol is one of the most famous pop artists of our time. When Andy was a child he became sick; and to keep himself busy he began to look through magazines. Andy Warhol made us realize everyday products can become artistic pieces.

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