Kerry James Marshall

Black people occupy a space, even mundane spaces, in the most fascinating ways. Style is such an integral part of what black people do that just walking is not a simple thing.

  • Name:Kerry James Marshall
  • Born: October 17th, 1955
  • From:Birmingham, AL
  • Spouse: Cheryl Lynn Bruce
  • Education:
  • Occupation: Painter, Professor at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois
  • Known For: American painting and printmaking focusing on African American culture.
  • Awards:
    • 1997 – Genius grantMacArthur Foundation 
    • 1999 – Honorary doctorate, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California
    • 2013 – Named for the Committee of Arts and Humanities by president Barak Obama 
    • 2017 – Fifth Star Award, for his contributions to Chicago, City of Chicago

It’s not often that you come across painters like Kerry James Marshall. He focuses on bringing out the finesse and unique aura of the Black figure. In fine arts, there is a large lack of African American representation, and Marshall’s work exposes viewers to that undiscovered world of creativity and beauty. As a child in the Los Angeles community, the Black Power and Civil Rights movement played a huge role in determining his subject matter. The boldness, the darkness chosen for many of his skin tones were a way to challenge racial stereotypes in America. Marshall also felt the colors were a visual way to distinguish the inner and outer appearance of black people, especially men. He’s well known for his acrylic paintings on unstretched canvas, and the way he communicated through symbolism and patterns. You can find many of his works on the Jack Shainman Gallery website 


To download the Handout:

  1. Click on the image
  2. Right-click and select Save Image As…
  3. Print
  4. Write a description on the line and decorate.
  5. Cut out and use for a selfie to share on our social media page.
  6. Download a card and envelope template and write about an idea this leader inspires.
  7. Check out more resources and ways to celebrate MLK can be found on these links as well as our official  Day of Service opportunity to volunteer.

This ASI Special event is an ongoing volunteer-led project made by people like you, using multiple educational sources regularly being revised and updated. We would love your assistance if you or your group would like to get involved, learn more here.