MacArthur Fellows Program

Kerry James Marshall

Painter | Class of 1997

Chicago, Illinois
42 at time of award
Area of Focus
2-D Visual Art
Published July 1, 1997

About Kerry's Work

Kerry James Marshall is an artist whose paintings portray allegorical depictions of African-American themes and subjects.

Marshall's paintings render an ordinary and often overlooked subject matter – lower and middle class African-American existence – with flair, assurance, and rich pictorial detail.  Conceptually experimental and artistically innovative, Marshall also builds on an enormous range of knowledge and admiration for the traditions of art history and western painting practices.  A classical idiom in concert with traditions of Haitian design, folk art, and the dimensional elements of African, tribal sculpture lends his subjects a larger-than-life allegorical status.  His large-scale canvases display a complex layering of diverse references and techniques to celebrate African-American culture while questioning the ways in which America has constructed social identity.


Since 1993, Marshall has been a professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago’s School of Art and Design.  He has also taught at the Los Angeles City College (1980-83) and the Los Angeles Southwest College (1981-85).  Marshall’s work is in the permanent collections of many museums and has been exhibited in numerous group shows, including the Whitney Biennial (1997), and the Documenta(1997) in Kassel, Germany. 

Marshall received a B.F.A. (1978) from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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