Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Julius Rosenwald Fund

On a recent work related outing to the Spertus Museum in Chicago I learned about Julius Rosenwald and the Fund he created in the early twentieth century to assist young African American scholars and artists in advancing their art and scholarship. Julius Rosenwald was a wealthy Chicago philanthropist who is perhaps best known for helping with the construction of YMCAs for African Americans in Chicago as well as across the United States; for helping to build over 5,000 primary and secondary schools for African Americans in the South; and, for building the Museum of Science and Industry on the South Side of Chicago. You can read a brief abstract on the life and contributions of Julius Rosenwald here.
What I found quite interesting about the Julius Rosenwald Fund, and will also be of interest to IHEC Blog readers, is that several of the African American artists and scholars who were Rosenwald Fellows between 1928 and 1948 (there were hundreds of Rosenwald Fellows) went abroad to study. As I walked through the museum on our guided tour I took some quick notes on a few of the artists whose works were on display and who had studied abroad on stipends from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. Here are just a few:

Augustana Savage (1892-1962) studied in Paris

Katherine Dunham (1909-2006) studied in Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Martinique

William Edouard Scott (1884-1964) studied in Haiti

Ronald Joseph (1910-1992) studied in Paris and Peru

Pearl Primus (1919-1994) studied in Liberia, Senegal, Ghana, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Elizabeth Catlett (1915- ) studied in Mexico

The Spertus Museum currently has on exhibit “A Force for Change: African American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund” where several works of art from the artists mentioned above are on display. You can learn more about the “A Force for Change” exhibit here.

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