Profile: Queen Brooks

Queen Brooks is an artist from Columbus, Ohio, best known for her distinctive, brightly painted, wood-burned pieces. Brooks has been described by The Columbus Dispatch as “one of Ohio’s best-known African-American artists,” and by Columbus Museum of Art director Nannette Maciejunes as “a leading arts elder in our community.” Brooks is an influential mentor of many younger artists, including psycheñwelic painter April Sunami.

Early life and education

Brooks was nurtured as an artist by a tight-knit group of influential black Columbus-area artists, which included Bill Agnew, nationally famed woodcarver Elijah Pierce, outsider artist “Grandpa Smoky” Brown, MacArthur Fellow Aminah Robinson, and Brooks’ own personal mentors, photographer Kojo Kamau, and mixed-media artist Barbara Chavous. She began her arts career teaching arts and crafts at the J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center in 1980, which is where she first encountered pyrography (wood-burning). After receiving her MFA at The Ohio State University, she completed a residency in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa as the recipient of the 1993 Lila Wallace, Reader’s Digest International Artist Award.

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