Jacob Lawrence was born on September 7th 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1930, Lawrence and his family moved to New York City and settled in Harlem. Throughout his teenage years his mother enrolled him in numerous art courses exposing him to art at a young age. It was quickly seen by his teacher that he was naturally creative. However, Lawrence dropped out of school all together at the age of 16.
When he was 19 he enrolled in the Harlem Art Workshop, where he studied art under artist Charles Alston. After completing the Workshop courses he began studying at the Harlem Community Art Center. Studying at the Community Art Center he became very close to the head professor, Augusta Savage. It was Savage who later got Lawrence a scholarship to the American Artists school and a position working for the Work Progress Administration. While working in the WPA he befriended several other New York artists whom he stayed friends with and later taught with in Art Workshops.
In 1943, Lawrence enlisted in the United Stated Coast Guard. He served on the first racially integrated crew. While working in the coast guard he continued to find time to paint. In 1970, Lawrence was invited to teach at the University of Washington. He accepted and moved to Seattle where he lived until his death in 2000.
Throughout his work he focused on the history and struggles of the African American peoples. His paintings can be distinguished by their bold shape and color inspired by Lawrence's Life in Harlem. Lawrence is one of the most influential painters to emerge out of the Harlem Renaissance and is still an inspiration to young artists today.