Joyce Owens


Joyce Owens
Double Paradox
Acrylic and collage on stretched canvas
40” x 30”

This mixed media painting is acrylic and collage on canvas, and a continuation of works on race and my family. It is based on a photo of my uncle as a young boy. I wanted to express the paradox he lived through when he served in the U.S. Army, volunteering during WWII, but was denied his proper rank when discharged because of his race. He succeeded anyway, leaving more than a half million negatives of images he captured, and a Philadelphia museum that named one its exhibition spaces after him!
Jack T. Franklin volunteered to serve, but like all Americans of African descent he was discriminated against when his officers realized he was African American. No, he did not hide his ethnicity. Recently out of high school. the recruiter decided for the young man that he was Native American. Without knowing this my uncle went to the Pacific to be a U.S. Army photographer, a skill he had been honing since he was 11 years old and my mother had given him his first camera.

He never seemed angry about the Army incident-even though they denied him the same rank that the other honorably discharged soldiers received. He used the skills he acquired to photograph and leave behind all his pictures that have been exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum, in a book by MacArthur fellow Deborah Willis, numerous articles and publications, and CBS News International. His collection has been acquired by the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Jack T. Franklin lived a double paradox, as many people of color in America do.


Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Owens, a Ragdale Fellow and recipient of a 3Arts award, she attended Howard University winning awards and earning a B.F.A. in painting, and Yale University, where she earned an M.F.A. in painting and the Helen Winternitz Award. At present Owens is Chicago State University’s curator and an associate professor teaching drawing and painting.

Her exhibition history is extensive, recently presenting a solo exhibition in the Preston Jackson Gallery at the Contemporary Art Center, Peoria, IL and curating a Diasporal Rhythms group show at the David and Reva Logan center at the University of Chicago October, 2013 and Prairie State College for the Sapphire and Crystals artists. Her exhibitions include a virtual display in Times Square in 2012 and Long Island in 2013, both in New York; NATO headquarters, Brussels, Belgium; the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden; Monrovia, Liberia, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Mbane, Swaziland. Owens’ work was shown at the University of Pennsylvania Museum; Philadelphia Museum of Art; DuSable Museum, Chicago; Koehnline Museum, IL; Spertus Museum, Chicago; in a two-person exhibition at the Museum of Greater Lafayette in Indiana; The Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit; The Butridge Gallery, Austin Texas; Just Lookin’ Gallery, Hagerstown, MD; Parrish Gallery, Georgetown, D.C.; the South Side Community Art Center; Gallery Guichard; Nicole Gallery; and other Chicago and national galleries.

Owens has been invited to speak at The Art Institute of Chicago, the College Art Association conference in Chicago, Purdue University, the School of the Art Institute, Chicago; the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; the Pittsburgh Arts Center, Columbia College Chicago and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, among others.

Some of the honors and publications Owens has won include first prizes awarded by Faith Ringgold, art consultant Madeline Rabb, Artnews critic Margaret Hawkins, and Jon Pounds, artist, CPAG.  Owens has been reviewed in the Chicago Sun-Times,  Chicago Gallery News Sept.-December issue, 2011 and Summer issue  starting April 2014 with Nick Cave, William Conger and six other Chicago-based artists. She was featured in The Detroit Free Press, January 2013, for her piece in a collaborative project called Visions of Our 44th President a traveling exhibition currently on view at the Wright Museum in Detroit and the Bearden 100, curated by Danny Simmons in New York.

Published in catalogs, books and journal covers, newspapers, and online reviews and features over the years, Owens has completed commissions for private and public parties and included in public and private national and local collections. Owens is a prolific painter and sculptor who addresses issues around race and gender.


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