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Artist Benny Andrews dies at 75

Andrews painted socially conscious works that addressed issues including the civil rights movement, the Holocaust and the forced relocation of American Indians.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Benny Andrews, a painter and teacher whose work drew on memories of his childhood in the segregated South, has died. He was 75.

Andrews died Friday at his home in New York of cancer, his wife, Nene Humphrey, said Sunday.

Andrews painted socially conscious works that addressed issues including the civil rights movement, the Holocaust and the forced relocation of American Indians. Even in an era dominated by abstract art, he exhibited his work in galleries and won awards and prizes including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1974.

His work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., among others.

Andrews was born in Plainview, Ga., in 1930 into a family of sharecroppers. He was one of 10 children who all worked in the cotton fields. In 1948 he became the first member of his family to graduate from high school.

He served in the Air Force from 1950-53 and used the G.I. bill to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

He moved to New York in 1958 and had his first solo exhibition, at Forum Gallery, in 1962.

Andrews taught art at Queens College from 1968 to 1997 and established an art program in New York state’s prison system. He traveled to the Gulf Coast this year to work on an art project with children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.