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 Mary Lovelace O'Neal  (20/21st century)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: mixed-media abstraction, art educator

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter, printmaker, and art educator, Mary Lovelace O'Neal creates work intended to convey a sense of movement or action.  She uses her brush energetically, often doing gestural painting and involving herself in a very physical process.  One of her paintings, Angel of the Hood, is 7 feet by 5 feet, and has a central deep red torso figure and whirling strokes of white paint.  It was inspired by a series of killings in East Oakland, and by her strong feelings that neighborhoods need nurture and attention. 

As an African-American growing up in the Jackson-Tougaloo sections of Mississippi, she has been deeply involved in the civil rights movement.  She left the south to study at Howard University and Columbia University.  In 1993, she received the Artist en France award from the French government, and lived in Paris for a year.  Her paintings reflect her experiences in Europe as well as her travels in Africa and South America.

Her palette is bright and assertive.  Originally she painted with oil but developed a strong negative reaction to harsh solvents, so switched to acrylics, watercolor, charcoal and pastel.

Lovelace is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, where, as a strong advocate for expanding the arts, chairs the Department of Art Practice, which launched the Center for Digital Art and New Media Research, created residence programs for foreign students and encouraged film studies.

In 2004, professionals of the Mississippi Museum of Art organized an exhibition of her work, which also went to the University of Maryland.

Caroline Weaver, "From the Committees-Mary Lovelace O'Neal", Women in the Arts, Holiday 2005.

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