Fallen Through The Cracks – Black Artists in History: Varnette Patricia Honeywood
Varnette Patricia Honeywood
#FallenThroughTheCracks – Varnette Patricia Honeywood was born on December 27, 1950, in Los Angeles, CA. She was a painter, writer, and businesswoman who created paintings and collages depicting African-American life. She is highly regarded for using color and light, patterns, and textures. Creating positive visual images for Black children became one of her major goals. She focused on the history of African Americans, their sufferings and triumphs, and celebrated the strength and leadership of Black women. She often described her work as “figurative abstraction.”
She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Spelman in 1972, her Master of Science in Education, and her teaching credentials from the University of Southern California (USC) in 1974. She also earned an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Spelman College in 2005. Honeywood used her educational training to teach multicultural arts and crafts programs to minority children in public schools and as a graduate student, she taught art at the Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall.
Camille Cosby discovered Honeywood’s work on note cards and she and her husband Bill Cosby started collecting her works. This led to the inclusion of Honeywood’s artwork, including her 1974 painting “Birthday”, on the walls of the Huxtable living room on the set of The Cosby Show. She had been asked to create a painting to be included in the show’s pilot and different examples of her paintings were cycled through during the show’s run.
Honeywood’s artwork can still be seen on various television shows, movies, and book covers. She is recognized by contemporary artists today for her significant contribution, helping to envision and shape Black visual culture. Varnette Honeywood died at age 59 on September 12, 2010, in Los Angeles after fighting cancer.
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