Social realist painter, illustrator, and educator, Ernest Crichlow was born in 1914 in Brooklyn, NY. He began studying commercial art at the School of Commercial Illustrating and Advertising Art, NY, and fine art with the Art Student’s League.
In 1930, Crichlow found a mentor in Augusta Savage when he joined the Harlem Artist’s Guild, alongside other such notables as Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Norman Lewis. Here he found his niche creating social realist works that packed a powerful message. During the Depression, he found work with the WPA, teaching art and working on mural projects. He used this platform to create works that captured “the indomitable inner strength, intrinsic beauty, dignity, and essential humanity of the African American community.”
He continued to support his community by establishing Brooklyn’s Fulton Art Fair in 1958. In 1969, along with Romare Bearden and Norman Lewis he co-founded the Cinque Art Gallery, dedicated to supporting and exhibiting the works of emerging black artists. He created a 25 panel mural in 1976 for the Boys and Girls High School of Brooklyn depicting people at work in various trades and careers as an inspiration for those students to achieve excellence. Crichlow was also known for his illustrations and children’s books.
Throughout his career, he participated in notable exhibitions at the American Negro Exposition, Chicago, 1940; the New York World’s Fair; the Harlem Community Center; the Downtown Gallery; ACA Gallery; and Atlanta University. He was honored as one of ten black artists from the National Conference of Artists by President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970’s.
Crichlow’s, Reflections of Another Time, was included in Southern Journeys, African American Artists of the South, a traveling museum exhibition, originating out of the Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, FL in 2011. In 2018, his work was included in Truth and Beauty: Charles White and His Circle held at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, NY.