Jacob Lawrence: communicating with unity

One of our new tutorials, Communicating with Unity, focuses on the artist Jacob Lawrence.

Much of Jacob Lawrence’s artwork is in series form (multiple works meant to be seen as a whole.) These series depict vast historical narratives, such as the Great Migration.  Lawrence researched each of his subjects in depth at libraries, then built his own visual interpretation of these histories in drawings, paintings, or prints.

Lawrence’s use of visual unity goes beyond holding a composition together. Sometimes the visual unity or repetition is so strong, it becomes the plot of the story. It is this intense use of visual unity that makes Jacob Lawrence’s art about the history of people rather than a person.

Jacob Lawrence: "The Embarkation"

Above is an image of Jacob Lawrence’s painting, “The Embarkation”. Part of The War Series, it depicts a crowd of soldiers in a landing craft, so tightly packed they become a repeating pattern. (You can read more about how Jacob Lawrence became a combat artist and served on the first integrated ship in the Navy at the US Coast Guard website )

In this photograph, Jacob Lawrence is holding the embarkation painting, showing it to fellow members of the Navy.


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