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Aaron Douglas


            Being from Kansas I was literally humiliated when I found out that the artist of the piece that I selected is quite possibly the greatest painter, or artist of any genre, from the great Sunflower State. However, Aaron Douglas is black and that may be why I've been so sheltered from his work. Not that everyone in Ks., or me for that matter, is a racist bigot, I was simply not exposed to his work, as I am sure many of my classmates were. This, was coupled with the fact that I am, by definition, a straight up redneck honky (this will be the only racial slur in this paper and yes I feel it is O.K. to use it since I am a honky). To further my humility it dawned on me that I am also an art major. A formal analysis of Douglas's work titled Aspects of the Negro Life is the purpose of this paper. In the next few pages I will show that Aspects of a Negro Life incorporates the principles and elements of art combined with unadulterated emotion to become one of the late Aaron Douglas" greatest achievements. Born in Topeka, Ks. in 1899, Douglas left the great state and began a journey that would eventually lead to greatness (Sporre). After graduating from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a BFA, Douglas began teaching at a high school in Kansas City where he continued to hunger for knowledge. His thirst for education was matched only by his yearning for a woman. Her name was Alta Sawyer, who, before marrying Douglas, was in an unhappy marriage to another man. Here is an excerpt from a letter written to Alta from Douglas, "I've been working and reading furiously I am doing some work in ornament and design, a very tedious and laborious task. I am still getting up at 4 and 4:30. Sweetheart, you have aroused again in me that passion for work and McCurry 2 study, that deep-seated ambition to push to the top. It is that same passion and that same ambition which alone carried me through all my school life.


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