Monique Quinton, M.A.
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts in art (May 2004)
Master of Arts in art history from the University of Kansas
McNair Project: The Role of Religion in the Personal and Professional Lives of Three African-American Artists of the Early 20th Century: Henry Ossawa Turner, Edwin Augustus Harleston, and Laura Wheeler Waring (2002)
Mentor: Luann Culley, Ph.D.
Historical research into art, religion, and African American history are combined within this paper to support the conclusion that due to the exclusionary practices of mainstream America, the black visual artist's success depended upon the social phenomenon of religion. A bishop of the Methodist church sponsored Henry O. Tanner's first solo exhibition. Edwin A. Harleston received funding to attend a school sponsored by the American Missionary Association. Laura W. Waring graduated from a college founded by missionaries. These are just a few of the many examples of organizational religious links to these three early twentieth century African American visual artists that are discussed in detail. In addition, many of these artists used religious iconography in their art. And interestingly, many black visual artists were introduced to the ethics of religion, either through family of origin or through friends. Research shows that one of the most important patrons in the history of these early artists was a deeply religious man by the name of William Harmon.
Religion was intrinsically linked to the development of the early black American twentieth century artist. The 1880s to the 1920s is a sliver of time compared to other great chunks of documented art history when religion influenced art. But, it is a sliver of time when religion (in the form of patrons, organizations, and family), influenced the lives and careers of the artist -- specifically the African American visual artists of the early twentieth century.