The relentless pace at which Porter worked during the final years of his life, searching the record to ensure corrections were made to some of the information in print, tells us in part how serious he was in attempting to leave an important legacy for those of us who have come after him and have chosen to study the history of African American art. Equally important, however, to Porterís review of history was his own art. He successfully achieved the balance he had sought between his own creative life as a painter and his life as a scholar, and the influences of these pursuits upon each other are clearly discernible in his writings and his art. Indeed, Porter was highly cognizant of the urge of the African American creative artist to invest his own work with a very personal and individualistic style that connected him both physically and spiritually to the time and space of the African world. This he attempted to do early in his career when he created visual compositions that referred to an historical and cultural view of the world he visited through scholarship, as in the case of Cuba and West Africa, Haiti and Brazil. From 1928 through 1930, Porter exhibited a wide range of his works at the Harmon Foundation exhibitions that highlighted the visual achievements of African American artists. He had already established himself as an artist who had a keen understanding of the genre portrait of the African American. The most widely exhibited among these portrait types was "Woman with a Jug," 1930, which is presently housed at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Stylistically rendered in broad painterly planes, "Woman with a Jug" represents Porter at his best during the period when he diligently pursued a rather realistic view of the world.



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February 2001