Monday, June 21, 2021
Artis Lane, the Artist Without Boundaries
By Yussuf Simmonds (Managing Editor)
Published May 7, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama applauding bronze bust of Sojourner Truth by Artis Lane

She is an artist that has been capturing Black people’s mood for over seven decades and continues to hold spectators of her vast body of work spellbound. 

Recently a bust of Sojourner Truth, done by world-renowned artist Artis Lane, was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama was on hand to unveil the statue of the first Black woman to be installed in the Capitol. Obama told the gathering, which included direct descendants of Truth, “I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the first Lady of the United States of America.” The ceremony took place appropriately in the Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center.

As an artist, Lane does sculptures, carvings, paintings, and a variety of other media. She is a one-woman art museum and has done artwork for some of the most well-known people in the world including Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Michael Jordan, Quincy Jones and Bill Clinton. At 81, she is still going strong producing great works of art. 

Fellow artist David Brown, who has known Lane personally and professionally, said, “She is a pioneer and an inspiration to all African Americans, whether or not they are artists. Her work and her skills and her craftsmanship are inspirational to all people. It’s an honor to know her and to be able to caucus with her while she is still among us.”

For over half a century, Lane has been creating and giving the world some of the best art in a variety of media and different compositional structures including paintings and sculptures of portraits, still life and star-studded exhibits unlike any other artist. Born in Canada, she grew up in Michigan where she was the first (Black) woman to be admitted to Cranbrook Art Academy and she also painted portraits of the Motor City’s executives and the governor of the state. The totality of Lane’s work is a comprehensive view of art in many media and of many figurative subjects. In addition to the aforementioned name, her different styles of commissioned portraits and busts include Diahann Carroll, President John F. Kennedy, Aretha Franklin, Audrey Hepburn and Barbara Bush. Her work is showcased at Motown Records, the Smithsonian Museum, the University of Missouri and numerous private galleries worldwide. Her work also graces the collections of such notables as Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones and Magic Johnson. 


Lane is honorably mentioned in the encyclopedic, historical series called “The History Makers” and her work had been on display at the California African American Museum (CAAM) entitled “A Woman’s Journey: the Life and Work of Artis Lane.” It captured the creative vision of Lane reflecting her progression from secular to the sacred and memorialized her as one of the nation’s most thoughtful and prolific artists; one who still walks among the people.

 Lane has also done a bust of Rosa Parks which is on display in Washington D.C. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Women of Excellence Award from the Chatham-Kent Family YMCA in Canada, the Museum of African American Art Award in Los Angeles, and the Women for Women Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital Foundation and most recently by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Lane continues to live and work in Los Angeles.



Categories: National

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