Little Moments Where Knowledge Meets Art
For an eight-year period, starting in 1984, the colorful artwork of Varnette Patricia Honeywood adorned the set of The Cosby Show, the iconic sitcom reaching over 35 million viewers each week. After this breakthrough exposure, Honeywood’s creations would subsequently appear on the sets of such television hits as Golden Girls, A Different World, Amen, 227, Kids Say The Darndest Things, and Cosby. In the 1990s, Honeywood illustrated the Little Bill book series for beginning readers, a 12-book production by Bill Cosby. In 1996, Honeywood produced a collage for the dedication of the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center at Spelman College.
Born to two elementary school teachers in Los Angeles on December 27, 1950, Honeywood was strongly encouraged in art and education from a young age. Unfortunately, she was also exposed to racial discrimination early on as her parents had moved from the Jim Crow South, where they’d been targeted by the Ku Klux Klan, to a mixed-raced neighborhood in Los Angeles where they were racially harassed. At age 12, the talented young artist began studying at the Chouinard Art Institute, a leading professional art school in Los Angeles later absorbed by CalArts.
In 1968, Honeywood—whose early artwork pulled from her grandparents’ rural community in Magnolia, Mississippi—entered Spelman College, where she studied history and worked toward becoming an educator like her parents. However, upon widespread encouragement from her art instructor, classmates, and fellow artists, Honeywood switched her major to art. Her move would prove transformative as the socially-conscious college student recognized the significant role the visual arts played in the civil rights era and the protests she participated in.
Graduating from Spelman in 1972, Honeywood earned a Master of Science degree in Education and her teaching credentials from the University of Southern California in 1974. Afterwards, she taught art and created arts and crafts programs while concentrating on the production of positive visual images for Black children. Inspired by such artists and mentors as Samella Lewis, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, and Ruth Waddy, the multitalented Honeywood went on to explore African American life and historicity through the varied media of paint, collage, lithograph, print, mixed-media, and monoprint.
In 1975, Honeywood and her sister, Stephanie, parlayed her increasingly popular art into a successful greeting card business celebrating Black life in the form of note cards, posters, and prints. These artistic cards would later catch the eye of Camille Cosby and further facilitate Honeywood’s ultimate status as an internationally renowned artist and illustrator. Her art would go on to grace galleries, museum exhibits, books, television programs, movies, buildings, schools, and other institutions.
A recipient of awards and recognitions too numerous to list, in 2002, Honeywood was honored by the University of Southern California Black Alumni Association and the school’s libraries with a Black History Month art exhibition entitled, “Trojans of Ebony Hue: Varnette P. Honeywood, Portrait of a Cultural Artist.”
Varnette Patricia Honeywood succumbed to cancer at age 59 in 2010.
BAIA BITS are produced in part by the generous support of our Patreon members with a special shout out to Zadig & Voltaire.
START COLLECTING ART
Sign up page for our free virtual collectors course — Here
Stephanie Robinson, Esq. is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, a national media figure, author, former Chief Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and former President and CEO of The Jamestown Project, a national think tank focusing on democracy. Ms. Robinson hosted her own national radio show, Roundtable with Stephanie Robinson, a popular weekly 30-minute, talk-radio program focused on culture, politics, and relationships that aired on TSN. For over half a decade, Ms. Robinson was Political and Social Commentator for the Tom Joyner Morning Show where she spoke to between 9 and 10 million people weekly, offering her perspective on the day’s most pressing social and political issues.
Robinson is co-author of Accountable: Making America as Good as Its Promise, (Atria Books, 2009). She is a nationally recognized expert on issues relating to social policy, women, race, family, and electoral politics. She was featured as one of the 30 Young Leaders of the Future in Ebony Magazine and was profiled in the book As I Am: Young African American Women in a Critical Age, by Julian Okwu. Robinson is a frequent speaker expressing her views in countless media outlets including the Associated Press, The Washington Post, C-Span, Fox News, NewsOne and NPR.
Stephanie was a Member of President Clinton’s first Mission to Africa regarding children orphaned by AIDS. Robinson, a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland and the Harvard Law School, is a native of Steubenville, Ohio. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.
Would you buy stock in BAIA if you could? Well we invite you to join us in becoming a monthly supporter, starting at just $3 a month YOU become a stakeholder and begin to help us transform lives through art. We are growing the BAIA team and will use your contributions to hire more team members for the purpose of creating more educational and marketing resources for schools and universities about african american artists both past and present. Such art initiatives and educational programming like Blacklite with Steve Prince, Relating to Art with Dr. Kelli Morgan, and BAIA BITS would not be possible without the ongoing support of our Patreon members. Please consider becoming a monthly Patreon member today!
Review our list of rewards for becoming a BAIA Patreon / patron supporter. Your monthly contribution has lasting benefits. — “What will your legacy be” – Dr. Margaret Burroughs
Thank you new and recurring monthly Patrons
Deloris and Eddie Young, Esther Silver-Parker, Eugene Foney, Zadig & Voltaire, Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, John and Melanie Guess, Frank Frazier, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Leslie Fields, Jim Nixon, Dr. Michael Butler, Mary “Madea” Jones, Patrick Stewart, Noreen Winningham, Reg Pugh, Kevin Smokler, Deborah R. Moore, Dr. Skyller Walkes, Jae M, Jocelyne Lamour, Marion Zweig, Shannon DeVaney, Ashlee Jacob, DaNia Childress, Rev. Anita Marshall, Mary Ali-Masai, Devera Redmond, Roslyn Valentine, Robin King, Brenda Larnell, Michael, Jeffery Washington, Tricia Konan, Debra L Lacy CHARLES BIBBS, Fredric Isler, Silvia Peters, Harold Moore, Shurvon Haynes K.Coleman Shannon Dale Davis Terese L Hawkins M. Rasheed Jamal Love Annette, Mason Archie, Manuelita Brown, Carolyn L. Mazloomi Gale Ross KL Martin michael jacobs Virginia Joy Simmons Christ Van Loan Sr. Cecilia Winters-Morris, Rosie Gordon-Wallace, Pearlie Taylor, Danny Jenkins, Sara, Lloyd Goode, Marina Kovic, Sarah Rooney, Mitchell Shohet, Nicole Farley, Cheryl B Blankman, Jocelyn Greene, Laura Di Piazza Petrina Burkard Hannah Diener Sarah Drury Claire Sig Mina Silva Whitney, Sara Friesen, Megan LaCroix, Kellyn Maguire, Sophia Bellin,o Cory Huff, Wilhelmina Barker, Linda Eaddy, Shelley Danzy, Rosalyn D. Elder, Sonia Spencer Karen Pinzolo Desiree Dansan, Deborah Paige-Jackson, ALKEBU LAN IMAGES Bookstore DeLores M Dyer, Shelia, Harry F Banks, Susan Ross, Dr. Diane R. Miles, Carlton Cotton, Andre Mitchell, Joan L. Ward, JOCELYN BENITA SMITH, Paul Robinson, Janice Orr, Patricia D Dungy, Ethnie Weekes, Shawn Rhea, Duke Windsor, Runez M Bender, Karen Y House, M Belinda Tucker, Dr. Yonette Thomas, Diana Shannon Young, Judith Hamilton, Julia Turner Lowe, Francene Greene, Caryliss R. Weaver, Sharmon Jane Hilfinger, Bill and Deborah Nix, joyce a, Wanda Baker-Smith, Timothy Gandley, Anneke Schwob, Emily M, Rachael horner, Morris Howard, Marie L Johnson, Ayoka Chenzira, Jean Gumpper, Caitlin Charles, Becca H,. Dr. Darlene White, Dr. Sandra Boyce Broomes, Michele C. Mayes, Rita Crittenden, Reginald Laurent, Jea Delsarte, Brenda Brooks, Suzette Renwick, BEVERLY GRANT, Linda B. Smith, Judith Bergeron, Emily Hegeman Cavanagh, Teri L Lewis, Cooky Goldblatt, Danni Cerezo, Hollis Turner, cdixon06, Freda Davis, Sarah Caputo, jacki rust, Curtis Morrow, Christina Levine, Jessica Beckstrom, Kim Walker, Pamela Hart, Ted Ellis, Louise berner-holmberg, Carla Sonheim, Nicole Bruce, Alison Deas, Monikapi, Ashley Littlefield, Reginald Browne Bill Cook, SylviaWong Lewis, DONNA PAXTON, Kanika Marshall, Cheyenne, Nancy Maignan, Kimberly Smith, Tracy Russ, Gwen Meharg, K Joy Peters, johnnie mae maberry, Lester Marks, Zishan Evans, Anne king, Dianna A. Harris, Arbrie Griffin Bradley, Sandra Sautner, Barbara Brown, Bronwen Hodgkinson, Sonia Deane, January Hoskin, Quinton Foreman, Key Mosley, Jim Alexander, Terri Pease, Annette Groschke, Richard MacMillan, D T Ray, Camille, Elayne Gross, Ann Tankersley, Samori Augusto, Karen M Hirsch, Jeanne H Chaney, Jacqueline Konan, Jerome Moore, Patricia Andrews-Keenan, India Still, Luna Cascade, Amy Peck, Marnese Barksdale, Elder Bridgette, René McCullough, Kevin and Tracy Burton, Raven Burnes, Kim Dubois, Edwina King Diva E, Charlotte Bender, Phyllis Stephens, Alisa R Elliot, Ebony English, Otto Neals, Michael Nix, Terri Bowles, Nelly Maynard, Leslie Smith, Bernard W. Kinsey, Toby Sisson, Raynard Hall, Milton Loupe, Wren Mckinley, Arturo Lindsay, Lindiwe Stovall Lester, Phil, Ricki Carroll, Sherman E Jackson Jr, Janine P Rouson, Raynard Hall, Vickie Townsend-Carter, Peter Prinz, PB Fine Art Appraisal, Alison Woods, Suzette Davis, Carlton Cotton, Art Now After Hours, Diane E Leifheit, Tamara clements, lisa tomlinson, vince leal, Deborah BarnwellGarr, Sonia Pollard, Barbara Hayes, Loretta Y Blakely, Gregg Y, Paige Jernigan, Randy McAnulty, raven walthor, Will Johnson, jack, Shameika Ingram, Trina Virginia Brooks, Black Wall Street Gallery, Suzanne Roberts, Faye Edwards, Tara, Crystal Green, Sedonia Phillips Kniskern, R Simpson, Kate Gadd, Judy Nyquist, Velma McLaurin-Bell, Frazier and Myra O’Leary, Rosemarie Rogers
We Appreciate your Patronage