The mission of the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation is to create and support a living legacy through programs and events that promote excellence in the arts and that foster a love of education that the Lawrence’s so exemplified. To that end, the Foundation has established the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Scholarship Endowment, which sponsors a biennial lecture and exhibition series at both the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and the Telfair Museum in Savannah. The series features renowned artists, scholars, and curators who come together with students and the public to discuss contemporary art.
In 2020 the Lawrence Foundation provided support endowment support to Savannah College of Art and Design, The Telfair Museum, and additionally to the Detroit Institute of Art for African American art collection acquisition and matching funds for The Smithsonian American Art Museum.
At SCAD, lecturers have included such noted speakers/artists as Theaster Gates (2014), Jack Whitten (2013, with an exhibition), Fred Wilson (2012, with an exhibition), Faith Ringgold (2011, with an exhibition), Ashley Bryan (2010, with an exhibition) and Richard Hunt (2009, with an exhibition).
In October of 2015, the Foundation was honored to present the Jacob Lawrence Symposium at SCAD featuring Dr. Walter O. Evans (member SCAD Board of Visitors and SCAD MOA Patron), Michelle Dubois (Associate Director at Winston Art Group), Richard Powell (Dean of the Humanities and the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History at Duke University), Sandra Jackson-Dumont (Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Steven Nelson (Director of the African Studies Center and Professor of African and African American Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles), Derrick Adams (artist), Njideke Akunyili (artist), Meleko Mokgosi (artist) and Barbara Earl Thomas (artist).
At the Telfair Museum, lecturers have included Deborah Willis (2015), Edmund Barry Gaither (2013), Whitfield Lovell (2012), Alvia Wardlaw (2011), Radcliffe Bailey (2010), Krista Thompson (2009), Richard Mayhew (2008, with an exhibition), and Richard Powell (2007).
The Lawrence Prize
In direct support of artists, the biennial Lawrence Prize for artistic achievement is given to a mid-career artist. The selected artist receives $10,000 and an exhibition in the Seattle Art Museum’s Lawrence Gallery. Past awardees:
- 2010—Titus Kaphar
- 2012—Theaster Gates
- 2013—Ruby Latoya Frazier
- 2015—Brenna Youngblood
- 2017—Sondra Perry
- 2019—Aaron Fowler
Lawrence Exhibitions and Programs
The Foundation is pleased to support the Jacob Lawrence Struggle Series Tour, 2021
- The Peabody Essex Museum: January 18 – April 26, 2020
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art: June 2 – September 7, 2020
- The Birmingham Museum of Art: October 17, 2020 – January 10, 2021
- Seattle Art Museum: February 25 – May 25, 2021
- The Phillips Collection: June 26 – September 19, 2021
Lawrence Estate Endowed Programs
Jacob Lawrence’s lifelong commitment to education was evident both in the classroom and in his art. As early as 1941, Lawrence visited public schools with his paintings, talking with students about art and American history. For him, his art functioned as a means of educating people about the past, inspiring them in the present, and providing them hope for the future.
As part of their ongoing legacy, Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Estate provided resources to support several programs that offer unique educational opportunities to aspiring young artists. They also supported documentation and scholarship on established artists.
The Lawrence Scholars Program at Parsons School of Design
The Lawrence Scholars Program, established through the support of Jacob and Gwen Lawrence, offers twelve promising young people in New York City the opportunity for intensive study, exploration, and mentoring in the visual arts at Parsons School of Design during their sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school. Programming is designed to give the students the skills that they will need to thrive in their pre-college courses and to begin preparing for their transition to college. Mentoring from current Parsons undergraduates from similar backgrounds and professional artists and designers complements the Scholars’ work in the classroom and generates a broader dialogue about academic and professional goals. Students are recruited through partnerships with Harlem-based nonprofit organizations and New York City public schools.
In addition, the Scholars enroll in coursework through Parsons Pre-College Academy. In Drawing and Painting, the Lawrence Scholars focus on the human figure while exploring still life and city/landscape observations. In these courses, the Lawrence Scholars begin to develop the core skills that they will continue to grow throughout the program; these are the requisite skills for gaining acceptance to competitive colleges of art and design.
The Jacob and Gwen Lawrence Fellowship at Skowhegan
The Jacob and Gwen Lawrence Fellowship at Skowhegan, established through the generosity of the Lawrence’s and with the support of the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, offers scholarship support for one or more artists to participate annually in Skowhegan’s unique summer residency program for emerging visual artists. In addition to this generous Fellowship support, Lawrence’s entire art library now resides at the Robert Lehman Library on the Skowhegan campus.
Located in rural Maine, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture was founded in 1946 and has since served as an unparalleled resource for artists and a catalyst for the advancement of their work. Founded by artists and still governed by artists, Skowhegan’s intensive nine-week residency program provides a rigorous, supportive atmosphere in which emerging artists are encouraged to work and explore free from the expectations of the marketplace and academia.
Support from the Jacob and Gwen Lawrence Foundation will assist in allowing gifted artists to attend Skowhegan for this important and unique experience in their artistic life.
Applications are only available online—for further information, please visit www.skowheganart.org.