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Hale Aspacio Woodruff (August 26, 1900 - September 6, 1980) was an African-American artist known for his murals, paintings, and prints. His three-panel work, Amistad Mutiny murals (1938-1942), is held at Talladega College in Talladega County, Alabama.
Early life and education
Born in Cairo, Illinois in 1900, Hale Aspacio Woodruff grew up in Nashville, where he attended local schools. He studied at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis and at the Chicago Institute of Art. Next he spent four "crucial years studying in Paris from 1927-31."
After working for a time as an art instructor, Woodruff went to Mexico in 1936. That year, he studied under Diego Rivera as an apprentice, learning his fresco technique and becoming interested in portrayal of figures.
Among Woodruff's well-known works is the three-panel Amistad Mutiny murals (1938), held at Talladega College in Talladega County, Alabama. The murals, commissioned and painted during the Great Depression, are entitled: The Revolt, The Court Scene, and Back to Africa, portraying events related to the 18th-century slave revolt on the Amistad. Located in Savery Library, they depict events on the ship, the U.S. Supreme Court trial, and the Mende people's return to Africa.
The library has an image of the ship that is embedded in its lobby floor. College tradition prohibits walking "on" the ship, despite its central location. In addition, the library has other Woodruff murals exploring other events from African-American history, including freedmen enrolling at the college after the American Civil War.
- Roberta Smith, "In Electric Moments, History Transfigured - Hale Woodruff’s Talladega Murals, in ‘Rising Up,’ at N.Y.U.", New York Times, 13 August 2013
- David C Driskell; Leonard Simon; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Two centuries of Black American Art, (Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New York : Knopf : distributed by Random House, 1976) ISBN 0-87587-070-8, ISBN 978-0-87587-070-0
- Hale Woodruff 50 Years of His Art, (New York : The Studio Museum in Harlem, 1979) OCLC: 17813325
- Samella Lewis, African American Art and Artists, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990) ISBN 0-520-08788-7, ISBN 978-0-520-08788-0, ISBN 0-520-08532-9: 9780520085329
- Kenkeleba Gallery (New York, N.Y.), The search for freedom : African American abstract painting 1945-1975, (New York:Kenkeleba House, ©1991) OCLC: 30743648
- Marika Herskovic, American Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s: An Illustrated Survey, (New York School Press, 2003.) ISBN 0-9677994-1-4. pp. 358–361
- Crystal Britton, African American Art: The Long Struggle, (New Line Books, 1998)
- Samella Lewis, African American Art and Artists, (University of California Press, 1994)
- Sharon Patton, African-American Art, (Oxford University Press, 1998)
- Romare Bearden, A History of African-American Artists: From 1792 to the Present, (Pantheon, 1993)
- "Amistad Murals", Talladega College