Connections in Space: The Mathematician and the Artist

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Evelyn Boyd Granville and Jean-Michel Basquiat occupied different spaces of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) world. Granville specialized in the objective, her career based on mathematics, while Basquiat embraced the subjective, through art. Both individuals were pioneers in their fields. Granville became the second Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in math, as well as working on critical projects with NASA in the 1950s. Basquiat, a self-taught artist and painter, was the youngest artist ever to showcase work at the Kestner-Gesellschaft Gallery in Hanover, Germany.

The Black Organizers, Leaders, and Doers (BOLD) Employee Resource Group at the WellPower has put together a year-long initiative highlighting Black leaders, entrepreneurs, inventors, historical figures, and inspirational individuals. We invite you to join us in learning about critical people in American history, and we thank BOLD for their work in gathering this information.

Evelyn Boyd Granville: May 1, 1924 – Present

Evelyn Boyd Granville spent most of her childhood, adolescence and young adult years focused on academic success. After graduating high school as valedictorian, she attended Smith College for her undergraduate work, and then went on to pursue her graduate and doctoral work at Yale University. Within a few years of earning her Ph.D., Granville went to work for IBM on the Project Vanguard and Project Mercury space programs. She analyzed orbits and developed computer procedures, including making “real-time” calculations during satellite launchings.

Granville is also known for:

  • Becoming a research specialist at the North American Aviation Space and Information Systems Division in 1962.
  • Her work in bettering the education system for students, especially surrounding mathematics.
  • Developing math enrichment programs for elementary school-age children to prepare them for both college and life beyond the education system.

Learn more about Evelyn Boyd Granville:

  1. The State University of New York at Buffalo
  2. National Academy of Sciences
  3. Agnes Scott College

Jean-Michel Basquiat: December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988

Born in Brooklyn, Basquiat had an affinity for art from an early age. His mother actively encouraged him, often drawing with him and taking him to different museums in New York. In 1976, Basquiat began attending the City-as-School, which was a progressive school in Manhattan. While there, he meets Al Diaz, who becomes a close friend of his, influences his early art and collaborates with him on SAMO. Around 1978, Basquiat began hanging out with filmmakers, musicians, and other artists, like Andy Warhol, Blondie and Madonna. In 1980, he showcased his art for the first time in the Times Square area of New York. His art gained fame and traction throughout the world, and he exhibited his work internationally. After his death in 1988, one of his pieces sold for $110.5 million – the highest priced work by an American artist.

Basquiat is also known for:

  • Creation of graffiti art, under the name SAMO
  • His artistic fusion of words, symbols, stick figures and animals
  • Collaboration with Andy Warhol on cartoon characters and corporate logos

Learn more about Jean-Michel Basquiat:

  2. Sotheby’s
  3. The Art Story

Urban Intellectuals Black History Flashcards

Inspiration for these posts comes from the Urban Intellectuals Black History flashcards. If you’re interested, we encourage you to check out these cards for yourself!

Black History is American History Series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5