Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Margo Humphrey





Margo Humphrey (1942)

The history of her life written across her face.







Black Madonna.

Margo Humphrey was born in Oakland, California. Educated in the Oakland Public Schools and Bethlehem Lutheran Parochial School and graduated from Oakland High School in 1960. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Painting and Printmaking. She pursued Post Graduate study from The Whitney Museum of American Art Summer Program in 1972 while attending Stanford University’s Graduate School. She graduated from Stanford with honors and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking. She has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, among them: The James D. Pheland Award, two National Endowment of the Arts Fellowships, a Ford Foundation Fellowship and twice nominated for a Tiffany Fellowship for full tuition to Stanford University in 1971 and again in 1988 for an Artists Fellowship. A one year Fellowship in 1980 was awarded to Humphrey by the Ford Foundation for research through the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. Since Humphrey.s first solo exhibition in 1965, her art has been exhibited and collected worldwide and now resides in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Humphrey has lectured and taught across the world and is currently a tenured professor of art at the University of Maryland, College Park.


With only the Gods from Haitian Compassion Suit, 1994.

As a whole, Humphrey’s work is vibrant and communicates a youthful, yet wise spirit. Color is essential to the collection, helping to create an energy that is both childlike and mature at the same time. Her color may be loud, but her subject matter is often intimate and telling, addressing a lifetime of emotions and experiences. Humphrey works in a style she calls “sophisticated naïve.” She never seems to take herself too seriously, adding graphic patterns and bold colors to the most somber of subject matter for a hint of joviality. All these factors combined, guests will find Her Story immediately engaging, easily relating to the issues Humphrey presents in such an earnest and approachable way.


Midnight Rendez vous.

Her featured work, The History of Her Life Written Across Her Face, truly encapsulates the spirit of her collection. A self-portrait, The History of Her Life Written Across Her Face chronicles the artist’s life; her story literally spills across her face in a mixture of visuals and text. There is a deep resonance of emotions in the visage and a deeper level of meaning in the story. Many of the symbols Humphrey employs become part of a cannon of her own personal pictorial language. Beginning her art career in the 1970s, Humphrey found herself influenced by the emerging feminist movement. In The History of Her Life Written Across Her Face, it is clear that “the personal is political,” for all though her self-portrait is highly personal, it i universal for many women. (text David C. Driskell Center)

The Last Bar-B-Q (down)



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