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Harlem Renaissance Art Analysis

As we continue to discover the historical context of Their Eyes Were Watching God, we turn our eye to an examination of the art that was produced during this time. For this assignment, you will choose one of the pieces of art identified below and, after doing an analysis on your own without outside references, write about its artist and the work in their contribution to and expression of the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance.

It is expected that you:

  • Provide your own personal analysis of the work before you have done research.

    • Examine the piece carefully for about 5 minutes, considering what the various components of the work could represent. In your response, make this its own section so I can see how you initially responded.

    • What images or ideas stand out, what do you think they mean, and why do you think this was an important work during the Harlem Renaissance?

  • Research information that provides context to the creation of the work. Who was the creator and why were they significant? What ideas did the creator tend to focus on, and how did they generally express them?

  • Include details that provide context to the time of the work: what were the dominant concerns of the time; how were others expressing ideas in art, literature, music, and/or film; what events were occurring or what people were significant?

  • You might also consider how the creator’s work was received at the time. Was it appreciated? Was it criticized?

  • Quote and accurately cite your research. If it didn’t come from your own analysis, it should have a citation nearby


Choose one of the following works:

  • Lift Every Voice and Sing, by Augusta Savage (Sculpture)

  • Les Fetiches, by Lois Mailou Jones (Painting)

  • Rise, Shine for Thy Light Has Come!, by Aaron Douglas (Painting)

  • Midsummer Night in Harlem, by Palmer Hayden (Painting)

Goal is to demonstrate an understanding of the role physical art played in expressing the culture that led to and developed as a result of the Harlem Renaissance.

Exemplary Work will include specific details from credible, accurately cited sources, thoughtfully make connections between the art and the Harlem Renaissance movement, and include very few errors in otherwise highly competent writing.

Earlier Event: April 8
Harlem Renaissance Poetry Analysis
Later Event: April 22
"Sweat" Analysis