For Annie Lee, art become a way for her to tell stories about the world around her. In some of her work, you can see how she has captured a scene she has personally witnessed. In other pieces, you see her whimsical view of the world – full of color, humor and the human experience.
Annie Lee’s partnership with the Tom Joyner Foundation dates back more than 10 years. In 2007, she was commissioned to create the “official” image for the Fantastic Voyage that year, only the second time such an image was requested. What makes “White Night” so special is that it was only sold during that year’s cruise. Additionally, she worked closely with Tom Joyner who commissioned her to do dozens over pieces over the years from Christmas Cards to celebrations of HBCUs to political messages.
Years ago, when asked about her inspiration for her poignant “White Night” painting, she shared a story that reflected so much on her unique ability to capture moments in time with color, emotion and detail. Lee talked about watching the thousands of cruise passenger adorned in their white attire during one of the themed “dress up” nights on the Fantastic Voyage. As she recalled, “Everyone looked like angels.”
As we celebrate the life of Annie Lee, we ask you to purchase a copy of “White Night” for your personal collection or as a gift. Remember, this is an exclusive offer: There are the only remaining prints.
All proceeds from the sale will benefit the Tom Joyner Foundation/Annie Lee Memorial Arts Fund that will be used to provide scholarships to the “TJF Fine Arts Scholars”, recognizing talented young artists HBCUs who aspire to become the next Annie Lee, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence or Romare Bearden.
Thank you for your support – and investing in our HBCUs.
Annie Lee - White Night
Internationally Acclaimed Artist Best Known for Her “Faceless Paintings” Portraying Culture and Emotion
Annie Lee had a very special gift. She let her artwork do the talking. She had the unique talent to paint a scene that captured people’s emotions. She lured you into her work with her wistful brushes of color. If her painting included people, you could hear them talking and laughing. If her painting had someone playing the harp or a saxophone, you could imagine the music. While Lee’s work featured African Americans, she really captured all Americans life from all angles.
Annie Lee’s signature of was to show images devoid of faces. Her subject’s body language and setting expressed strong feelings in a unique way that moved her audience.
Over the decade, Lee has been a huge supporter of the Tom Joyner Foundation. Without hesitation, she donated her time and artwork to help the Foundation raise money to help keep students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Her Higher Education: A Way to Soar painting celebrates the successes of the students at these HBCUs achieving great heights. Her White Night painting captures the elegance and whimsy of one of the theme nights on board the Fantastic Voyage, an annual weeklong cruise that is a huge fundraiser for the Foundation, where she was a regular exhibitor. In 2011, Lee celebrated her 70th birthday, including a special visit from Tom Joyner and comedian/actor Sinbad.
Born in Gadsden, Ala., Annie Lee was raised in Chicago She began painting at age 10 in elementary school, where she won her first art contest and received a free semester of study at the Art Institute of Chicago. She continued honing her artistic skills resulting in a four-year scholarship to Northwestern University. Lee did not resume painting until she was 40 years old.
By then, she had lost two husbands to cancer and raised a daughter from her first marriage and a son from her second. While working as the chief clerk at Northwestern Railroad, Annie studied art at night, eventually earning a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Art from Loyola University.
Lee worked during the day and painted at night. Painting became her refuge from the work that inspired one of her most famous paintings – Blue Monday. The painting depicts a woman struggling to pull herself out of bed on a Monday morning – a feeling Annie could relate to. Her dedication to her art proved successful when at her first gallery show in 1985 she sold all of her pieces within four hours. In fact, it was so successful that she allowed prints to be made from some of her originals to meet the demand for her work. However, Annie didn’t want to lose the security of her “day job” and continued to work for the railroad.
Later her painting My Cup Runneth over became one of her most acclaimed storied pieces. Women of all cultures could relate to the story of a woman in a white dress sitting on a pillow next to a table with tea on it, and praying with an open bible in her lap
Her dedication and work paid off, establishing her as an iconic, internationally renowned artist.
Annie Lee will be missed. Her work will live on forever. Visit the Tom Joyner Foundation Art Gallery to Purchase a Exclusive Annie Lee Art Piece [CLICK HERE]