Wadsworth Jarrell

Installation Views

b. 1929 Albany, Georgia Lives and works in Chicago

Wadsworth Jarrell (b. 1929, United States) is a painter, sculptor, and AFRICOBRA co-founder. Born in Albany, Georgia, Jarrell was raised on a working farm. Inspired by the art in the Saturday Evening Post, he hoped to become an illustrator. He joined the US Army after high school and became the company artist for his unit. After the army, Jarrell moved to Chicago. While working at the International Paint factory, he enrolled in night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Initially focused on design and illustration, he switched his attention to fine art after visiting various Chicago art museums. Back in Georgia, blacks had not been allowed inside museums. Seeing masterpieces for the first time in person inspired Jarrell. He enrolled full time at SAIC in 1954, and earned his BA in 1958.


Wadsworth has developed many distinct bodies of work, including sculptures inspired by the African cultural traditions, and a series of paintings dedicated to jazz musicians. A distinctive tool Wadsworth has used in some paintings is a brick laying trowel—something he learned to utilize in 1982, while creating a 300 foot mural at the headquarters of Westinghouse Electric Company. His work is widely collected, and is included in several important institutional collections, including that of the High Museum of Art, the National Museum of Africa American History and Culture, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Exhibition History


Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX

Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL

Figure in Solitude, online exhibition, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL

Radical Optimism, online exhibition, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL

Tell Me Your Story, Kunsthal KAde, Amersfoort, Netherlands


Come Saturday Punch, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL

AFRICOBRA: Nation Time, Venice Biennale (official collateral exhibition), Venice, Italy

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, The Broad, Los Angeles, CA


AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami, FL

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY

AFRICOBRA 50, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL

The Time is Now! Art Worlds of Chicago’s South Side, 1960-1980, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL

We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85, ICA Boston. Boston, MA

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville , AR

AFRICOBRA:Now, Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York, NY


AFRICOBRA/Farafindugu, Afro-American Historic & Cultural Museum, Philadelphia, PA


AFRICOBRA III, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA

AFRICOBRA III, Howard University, Washington, D.C.


AFRICOBRA II, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL

AFRICOBRA II, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

AFRICOBRA II, Malcom X College, Chicago, IL

AFRICOBRA II, Hati Gallery, Rochester, NY

AFRICOBRA II, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY


AFRICOBRA II, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

AFRICOBRA II, Langston Hughes Center for Visual & Performing Arts, Buffalo, NY

AFRICOBRA I, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL


AFRICOBRA I, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

AFRICOBRA I, Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Roxbury, MA

AFRICOBRA I, Black Expo, Chicago, IL