Painter, storyteller, interpreter, and educator Jacob Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, NJ. In 1941, he was the first African American artist to be represented in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. In 1970, the NAACP awarded him its highest honor, the Spingarn Medal, for his outstanding achievements.
Lawrence gained national recognition with his 60-panel Migration Series, painted on cardboard. The series depicted the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North between 1916 and 1970, approximately. The series is now held by The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. Lawrence's work is in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Brooklyn Museum, New York City; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, NC; and Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, WA, among other institutions.
Before he died, he and his wife, the artist Gwendolyn Knight-Lawrence, established the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation. The foundation maintains a searchable archive of nearly 1,000 images of the couple's work. Jacob Lawrence is most known for his portrayal of African American life rendered in a style described as "dynamic cubism." He was a professor of art at the University of Washington, Seattle.