Every week, we will be posting a closer look into our collection to share some of the works and artists that excite and inspire us most. Almost a year ago, we were fortunate enough to acquire the last remaining set of thirty-six prints from the estate of the late Mavis Pusey who died on April 20th 2019 at the age of 90. We already had her print, ‘Decay’ in the collection. Recently, we have begun to acquire artists whose artwork illustrates the overlap of Diaspora Africans from the Americas (the Caribbean Islands and South America) as part of the rich history of African American art.
Mavis Pusey was an African American artist born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1928. She grew up in the rural town of Retreat where she learned to sew at a very young age and by 9 years old, knew how to design and make her own clothes. At 18 she moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League with noted figures like Will Barnett. In her career as an artist, she was drawn to peculiar aesthetics of materials, shapes and forms strewn around building construction sites throughout the city.
Although Mavis exhibited at colleges, galleries and museums, and her works can be found in the collections of the Corcoran and the Museum of Modern Art, many people are not familiar with her work or imagery. Why? Simply put, it was because she was black and a woman back in the 60’s and 70’s, and her subject matter, neo-constructivist abstractions, further alienated her from the figurative legitimacy of ‘Black art.’ We are presenting four examples of Mavis Pusey’s print work in celebration of her life and legacy in American art.
To learn more about Mavis Pusey’s life and legacy, head over to the New York Times for her obituary.