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Meet the Artist

Jonell Joshua

Image (left): 

Schomburg Literary Festival! (2024)

Image (right): Jonell Joshua

The image featured in the 2024 Schomburg Center Literary Festival is by Jonell Joshua.

Jonell Joshua is an Author/Illustrator based in Brooklyn, New York. Her passion for drawing has deep roots stemming from a young age, inspired by her mother’s artwork, familial roots in New York and adolescence spent in the heart of South Jersey and Savannah, Georgia. Her professional work has explored a range of topics in editorial illustration and publication, including illustrating for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, The Queens of the Resistance series, and work featured in the film Selah and the Spades. She has worked with clients including The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and NPR. Her work has been recognized by The Society of Illustrators and American Illustration: International Motion Art Awards and her debut illustrated memoir, How Do I Draw These Memories?, released everywhere on April 16 2024. 

Take A Look...The Universe is Yours, 2019 art of young women reading with a galaxy background
Portrait of Jennifer Mack-Watkins - photo by  Elizabeth Brooks

Meet the Artist

Jennifer Mack-Watkins

Image (left):
Take A Look...The Universe Is Yours!, 2019

Image (right): Photo by Elizabeth Brooks

The image featured in the 2022  Schomburg Center Literary Festival is Take A Look...The Universe Is Yours!, 2019, by Jennifer Mack-Watkins.

Jennifer Mack-Watkins is a contemporary visual artist who’s primary studio practice entails silkscreen and Japanese woodblock prints. Her work investigates the societal constructs that can leave women feeling isolated and she explores definitions of femininity based on widely held notions of beauty and cultural norms. Her artistic aesthetic draws from a confluence of reference points, most of which include her Japanese Mokuhanga printmaking techniques and her culturally rich southern roots.  In the summer of 2015, Jennifer was selected to participate in the Mokuhanga Innovation Laboratory artist-in-residence program in Yamanashi, Japan and was a Joan Mitchell Foundation 2015 Emerging Artist nominee. She is also the recipient of "The Elizabeth Catlett Printmaking Award" presented by Hampton University Museum and received a grant from the National Black Arts Foundation in 2022.


Institutional acquisitions include Thomas J. Watson Library, Library of Congress, Zimmerli Museum, Agnes Scott College, Getty Research Institute, Newark Public Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art,Smith College, Museum Fine Arts Boston,and Clark Atlanta University. Her work is also held in the permanent collections of ABC Studios and many other private art collections. Jennifer has presented her work in the Rush Arts Gallery 20th Anniversary Exhibition and Print Portfolio that was exhibited in New York City, and at Miami SCOPE and PRIZM art fairs. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Vogue, Art and Object, and Essence. Jennifer is a native of Charleston, South Carolina and currently lives and works in both New Jersey and Georgia. Jennifer holds a bachelor of arts in BA in studio arts from Morris Brown College, a MAT from Tufts University, and a MFA in Printmaking from Pratt Institute and is on the Board of Trustees at the Brattleboro museum. 

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Meet the Artist

Ernest A Ford

Image (left): 

Generational Wealth (2023)

Image (right): Ernest Ford

The image featured in the 2023  Schomburg Center Literary Festival is Generational Wealth, by Ernest A. Ford.


FAE, or Fake Artist Ern, is from Washington D.C with roots extending northeast to New York. Using a multitude of artistic mediums, FAE explores his passion for the arts through shapes and colors in order to add a creative twist to his lived experiences. “I’ve been into art my entire life but after the Scope Art Fair in was game on,” he said. Art has a way of teaching people and inviting people in. Having Black people in art spaces is life changing for many. FAE’s career path is a testament to what can be when invited into art spaces. “I was there with my brothers [from] the Bishop Gallery and something clicked for me...I haven’t looked back since!"

Specializing in FEELS abstract art, Free Enlightened Elevating Loving + Soulful, he is able to express and interpret the admirers point of view.

Book of Cures
BARBARA EARL THOMAS photo in studio in front of works in progress

Meet the Artist

Barbara Earl Thomas

Image (left): 

Book of Cures by Barbara Earl Thomas

(Courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery and Barbara Earl Thomas. Photo by Spike Mafford Photography)

Image (right): Photo by Jovelle Tamayo

The image featured in the 2021 Schomburg Center Literary Festival is Book of Cures by artist Barbara Earl Thomas. 


Barbara Earl Thomas, who is represented by the Harlem-based Claire Oliver Gallery, is a writer and visual artist with numerous national exhibits to her credit. Drawing on her personal history between the American South and the Pacific Northwest, Thomas incorporates themes of people and their rituals with the land, politics and social issues while foregrounding the mythologized sense of place as it operates between a geographical and spiritual realm. Thomas is a maker who builds tension-filled narratives through papercuts and prints, placing silhouetted figures in social and political landscapes. Thomas’s site-specific sculptural practice expands these forms.  She creates public sculptures and large-scale installations that use light as the animating force and invites her viewers to step inside her stories and dramatic illuminated scenographies. 

Thomas’s works are included in the collections of the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Chrysler Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Microsoft, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the Washington State and Seattle City public collections. She is the recipient of the City of Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award for Cultural Ambassador, the Governor’s Arts Award, the Artist Trust Irving and Yvonne Twining Humber Award, and The Stranger Genius Award for excellence in the arts. Thomas is a lecturer on arts and culture as well as serving as a social and cultural activist.  She received her BA and MFA from the University of Washington School of Art. Her current major solo exhibit, Geography of Innocence, is on view at the Seattle Art Museum, and an upcoming exhibit at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington opens in the fall of 2021.

Derrick Adams Figure in the Urban Landsc
Derrick Adams Photo by Mark Poucher

Meet the Artist

Derrick Adams


Image (left):
Figure in the Urban Landscape 28 2018 (3)

Image (right): Photo by Mark Poucher

The image featured in the both the inaugural and second  (2019 and 2021) Schomburg Center Literary Festival is Figure in the Urban Landscape 28 2018 (3), was by the artist Derrick Adams. 

Derrick Adams is a Baltimore-born, Brooklyn, New York-based artist whose critically admired work spans painting, collage, sculpture, performance, video, and sound installations. His multidisciplinary practice engages the ways in which individuals’ ideals, aspirations, and personae become attached to specific objects, colors, textures, symbols, and ideologies. His work probes the influence of popular culture on the formation of self-image, and the relationship between man and monument as they coexist and embody one another. Adams is also deeply immersed in questions of how African American experiences intersect with art history, American iconography, and consumerism. Most notably in his Floater series, he portrays Black Americans at leisure, positing that respite itself is a political act when embraced by black communities. The radicality of this position has materialized in Adams’ work across his Deconstruction Worker, Figure in the Urban Landscape, and Beauty World series.


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