Dindga McCannon

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Dindga McCannon
Dindga-McCannon-2 (32621031437).jpg
Dindga McCannon

July 31, 1947
Known forArt, Murals, Printmaking, Teaching, Illustration, Fiber Art, Writing
External video
video icon “Outspoken: Dindga McCannon, May 7, 2018
video icon The Artist's Voice: Dindga McCannon, Beverly Smith, and Barbara Smith, ICA/Boston, October 16, 2018

Dindga McCannon, born July 31, 1947, is an African-American artist, fiber artist, muralist, teacher author and illustrator.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

McCannon was born and raised in Harlem and inspired to become an artist at the age of 10. She is self-taught and works intuitively. Calling herself a mixed-media, multimedia artist she works at "fusing my fine art 'training' with the traditional women's needlework taught to me by my mother, Lottie K. Porter and grandmother Hattie Kilgo — sewing, beading, embroidery and quilting into what is now known as ArtQuilts."[2]


Dindga McCannon has been an artist for 55 years. In addition to her work as a quilter author, and illustrator, Dindga considers herself a costume designer and muralist and a print maker. Her work involves women's lives, portraits, and history.

In response to sexism and racism in the art world, artists in the 1960s and 1970s created collectives as a way to fight oppression. In the 1960s McCannon was a member of Weusi Artist Collective. This is how McCannon became interested in the Black Arts movement.[3] The Weusi Collective was interested in creating art that evoked African themes and symbols, as well as highlighting contemporary black pride.[4] In 1971, she hosted the first meeting of the Where We At group of black women artists in her apartment, which grew into one of the first group show of professional black women artists in New York City.[5][6]

McCannon's interest in black arts and women's work met in her creation of dashikis, which then led her to create wearables and quilts.[3]

She recently presented at the Art of Justice: Articulating an Ethos and Aesthetic of the Movement[7] conference at New York University presented by the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in Collaboration with the Department of Art and Public Policy, New York University; Institute of African American Affairs, New York University; and Institute for Research in African American Studies, Columbia University.


McCannon has a quilt (titled "Yekk's Song") in the permanent collection of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.[8] In January 2020 McCannon's oil painting, "The Last Farewell" was auctioned for $161,000 as part of Johnson Publishing Company's bankruptcy proceedings. This work was part of their private collection, which also included works by Henry Ossawa Tanner and Carrie Mae Weems.[9]

"Revolutionary Sister", a mixed media work created in 1971, was created in response to a lack of revolutionary women warriors. The work depicts a powerful and colorful sister, created in part with items from the hardware store. McCannon speaks about this piece as a Statue of Liberty figure.[6][10] It is in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum.[11]


One-woman shows[edit]

In 2009, McCannon had a one-woman exhibition titled "(This) Woman's Work is Never Done — Celebrating 44 years of Art Making." It was featured at the Hamilton Landmark Galleries, 467 West 144th Street in Harlem.[12]

McCannon's work has appeared in many group shows since 1971.[13]

Selected group shows[edit]

  • 2001: “Spirits of the Cloth,” Contemporary Quilts by African American Artists, American Craft Museum, NY
  • 2002: “Spirits of the Cloth,” Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.
  • 2003: “America from the Heart,” Hudson River Museum, NY
  • 2004: “America from the Heart: Quilters Remember 9/11”, Page–Walker Art and History Center, Cary, NC
  • 2008: Weusi Collective: A Retrospective of 50 Years, African American Museum of Nassau County, NY
  • 2009: “Textural Rhythms: Quilting the Jazz Tradition,” American Folk Art Museum, NYC
  • 2010: “Weusi Revisited 2010,” Dwyer Cultural Center, NY
  • 2017:-2018: "We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-1985"[14]
    • Brooklyn Museum, NY
    • CAAM, Los Angeles, CA
    • Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY
    • ICA Boston, MA
  • 2020: "Forget What You Know", Kourosh Mahboubian Fine Art, NYC[15]


McCannon has also been commissioned to create various pieces of art.

  • 1985: “United Community,” 50 ft by 6 stories, 25 Furman Ave, Brooklyn, NY, Dept of Cultural Affairs
  • 2000: “Amazing Life of Althea Gibson,” 60 inches by 120 inches art story quilt, Disney Inc for ESPN Zone, 42nd Street and Brady, NYC
  • 2001: “Winning the Vote,” Art Quilt on the Pioneers of Wome's voting history America, Scholastic Magazine
  • 2008: “Zora Neale Hurston,” B.O.S.S. (Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters), Columbia University, NY


  • Johnson Publishing Company, Studio Museum in Harlem Permanent Collection
  • Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem NY, Arts in Embassies Program, Washington, DC[16]
  • Brooklyn Museum Collection[17]


  • 2005 – N. Y. F. A. Fellowship – Crafts
  • 2007 – Urban Artists Initiative, Harlem Arts Alliance
  • 2008 – Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance – Individual Artists Grant 2009 – Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance – Individual Artist Grant


McCannon has written and illustrated two books. Peaches, published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard in 1974 and by Dell in 1977, tells the story of a young black girl growing up in Harlem, her life with her family and her ambition to be an artist.

Wilhemina Jones, Future Star, published by Delacorte in 1980, has a similar theme, with a young black girl growing up in Harlem in the mid-1960s who dreams of pursuing an art career and leaving the oppressive atmosphere of her home.

McCannon has also illustrated books for others: Omar at X-mas by Edgar White, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, and Speak to the Winds, African Proverbs, written by K. O. Opuku, published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard in 1972.[18]

In 2018 McCannon published an illustrated cookbook called Celebrations. The opening reception was held at Art For the Soul Gallery in Springfield, MA.[19]


McCannon is a member of two artist's collectives, Weusi and Where We At (a black woman's collective from the 1970s).

Further reading[edit]

  • Richardson, Clem (September 6, 2012). "Community Works teams with a bevy of Harlem institutions to display a quilt of Uptown history and culture". New York Daily News.
  • Farrington, Lisa (2011). Creating their own image : the history of African-American women artists (Print book : English ed.). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199767601.


  1. ^ Cotter, Holland (2017-04-20). "To Be Black, Female and Fed Up With the Mainstream". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  2. ^ Harlem Open Artists Studio Tour Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "Articulate — Dindga McCannon". Articulate. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  4. ^ Brown, Kay (2012-07-11). "The Weusi Artists". Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. 30 (1): 60–67. ISSN 2152-7792.
  5. ^ Farrington, Lisa E. (2005-01-01). Creating their own image: the history of African-American women artists. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019516721X.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Curator Catherine Morris runs us through Brooklyn Museum's show, We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women". www.itsnicethat.com. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  7. ^ "Nov. 7th | The Art of Justice Conference". cccadi.org. Archived from the original on 2015-11-09. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  8. ^ Black Threads: An African American Quilting Sourcebook by Kyra E. Hicks, page 158.
  9. ^ Dudek, Mitch (2020-02-04). "Johnson Publishing Co. art auction fetches nearly $3 million, doubling expectations". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  10. ^ "Symposium: We Wanted a Revolution - Interview - Dindga McCannon with Catherine Morris". YouTube. 28 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Brooklyn Museum". www.brooklynmuseum.org. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  12. ^ This Woman's Work is Never Done Pinta Manual, retrieved March 15, 2009
  13. ^ Dindga McCannon African American Visual Artists Database
  14. ^ "Revolutionary Sisters: Artwork Forged in the Crucible of Battles Over Feminism". www.villagevoice.com. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  15. ^ "Forget What You Know Exhibition". Kourosh Mahboubian Fine Art. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  16. ^ Art in Embassies official site
  17. ^ Brooklyn Museum Official Site
  18. ^ Dindga McCannon[permanent dead link] World Catalog
  19. ^ "Events". Art for the Soul Gallery. 2017-03-12. Retrieved 2019-04-05.

External links[edit]