Art from the South: Mary Whitfield and Janice Kennedy
by Laurie Ahner
Mary Frances Whitfield (b. 1947, Alabama) focuses her rich paintings on the historical and modern plight of African-Americans, and the cruelty and injustice they have experienced. The powerful works contain little detail; the figures have no facial features. Instead, the drama of their gestures or body language conveys the feeling of the painting.
Janice Yvonne Kennedy was born fourth of six children, in 1941, in Harbins Community, Georgia. Until the age of fifteen, she worked in the fields as a sharecropper. Janice never went past the ninth grade. Her dad made her stay home to work in the fields. By the age of ten, she could pick one hundred pounds of cotton a day. Janice is a self-taught artist and born-again Christian. When she starts a painting, she asks, “Lord, what would you have me paint today?”