Varnette Honeywoood (American, 1950 – 2010)
Image : 10 3/8 x 13 3/8 in. (26.35 x 33.97 cm)
Board : 16 x 20 in. (40.64 x 50.8 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
Object Number

This print depicts a young African American couple sitting on a couch in the parlor of a well-appointed, upper middle-class home. The young woman offers tea to her suitor while her parents sit nearby, the mother crocheting and the father reading The Crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP. A much smaller child peers over the arm of the couch to see what is going on as an older woman, perhaps a grandmother, walks serenely down a hallway behind the group. The entire scene is carefully constructed to convey an impression of stability, prosperity and respect for traditional family values. The print was created by Varnette Honeywood, an African American artist from Los Angeles whose parents had moved to that city from Mississippi and Louisiana as part of the Great Migration in the 1940s. She earned her undergraduate degree in Art from Spelman College in Atlanta in 1972 and a master’s degree in Education from the University of Southern California in 1974. After working for several years as an art outreach instructor in the Los Angeles public school system, Honeywood established an art studio and greeting card company to promote her own artwork depicting images of African American life. Honeywood acknowledged that her strongly patterned, boldly colored artworks were influenced by the art of Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, as well as by a trip she took to Nigeria in 1977. In the early 1980s, Honeywood’s positive representations of Black American life attracted the attention of comedian and television star Bill Cosby, who began to collect her work and featured it on the sets of The Cosby Show, which similarly broke with negative stereotypes to portray an intact, affluent and highly cultured African American family.          

Object Type