The Man Who Wore Red

Known as the man who wore red, Allen Stringfellow at the age of seventy-two explains it for himself: “All I ever wear is red, from jeans to mink, so I guess that color is a powerful color for me.” Family Portrait. Allen Stringfellow was born on July 9th, 1923 and was raised in Champagne, Illinois by his great– grandmother, Hazel Briggs along with seven other children. As a peaceful man who chose never to be angry or pervade negative emotions in his paintings, Stringfellow captures the comforting moments in black culture. He detailed the nostalgic memories at picnics, worshiping in church, relaxing in jazz nightspots, or finding ordinary scenes from busy streets and storefronts, all of which reflect his daily life from past to present. Throughout much of his artwork, Stringfellow’s family, religion, and nightlife in Chicago helps revitalize the values that Black Americans carried throughout the 20th century when facing social injustice and poverty. He managed to capture the way people moved in everyday life in his artwork by reflecting their demeanors and postures that revealed a unique characteristic of each life like individual. Black art has served as a mouthpiece for African Americans by offering new perspective for the audiences abroad, yet still upholding its culturally rooted power. Not only does Stringfellow manage to represent life’s moments ranging from the most vivacious to most tranquil, but his representation of black culture in the United States promoted a quality image of black Americans by eliminating preconceived negative stereotypes. From the Great Migration to the ever-evolving growth of the city of Chicago, Stringfellow’s artwork defines the true character in the search for black identity, belonging, and success. His unique background of both the church and Chicago nightlife offer a diverse perspective of a model for a black community. Although two contrasting ways of life, the artist captures these thriving moments in between social and economic inequities throughout the 20th century.

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Student Creator:

Nia Stringfellow:  I come from the southwest suburbs of Chicago studying exercise science and dance performance.  While I am also a science major, the dance program has taken over my life in the best ways. For the past two years, I’ve participated in Dance 41 with Steven Iannacone and Dance 42 with Angie Yetzke. My experiences with the dance department have shaped who I am as a person as well as steered me towards new directions in my academic journey. The Mellon Scholars Program has provided me with opportunities and resources to explore dance in marriage with African-American cultural values. I am especially interested in collaborating with other students who research dance and human experiences through technology. I hope to open my own studio center, where I can combine my passion of health and the arts for young developing dancers and artists. My goal is to target low-income areas and present young children with new opportunities to develop their full potential of strength and talent.