Loïs Mailou Jones
While she was influenced by the Harlem Renaissance and was also an art professor at Howard University, it was Lois Mailou Jones’ marriage to a Haitian artist and her time in Haiti in the 1950s and 60s that inspired the colors and themes of this piece. The bright colors and patterns of Haitian art and fabrics are represented throughout the work. The snake-like form on the left of the painting, as well as the title of the piece reference the voodoo loa, a serpent figure known for creating the cosmos and ruling the mind and spirit. Jones’ interest in Pan African culture continued throughout her life, and she served as the United Nations Information Agency cultural ambassador to 11 African nations in the 1970s.
Loïs Mailou Jones (1905-1998), Damballah, 1980. acrylic on canvas. Museum purchase, 2011.7