Cover image for Never late for heaven : the art of Gwen Knight
Never late for heaven : the art of Gwen Knight
Knight, Gwendolyn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Seattle : University of Washington Press ; Tacoma : Tacoma Art Museum, [2003]

Physical Description:
83 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
General Note:
Published in conjunction with an exhibition held at the Tacoma Art Museum, Jan. 14-May 3, 2003.
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6537.K615 A4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Never Late for Heaven chronicles an odyssey in American art and social events beginning with the often-romanticized Harlem Renaissance and traveling through the Great Depression and beyond. Gwen Knight's story reveals the life and the passion for painting of a young woman who was surrounded and supported by her community.

Her formal education cut short by the Depression, Knight left Howard University and returned to Harlem, where her real art education began. For several years she participated in WPA apprenticeships and workshops, guided by her own independent mind and spirit. She and her fellow painters, including Jacob Lawrence (whom she later married), immersed themselves in a world that was creating its own narrative in history, literature, music, and theater. As New York was a mecca for artists of all stripes, Harlem was a singular world within that mecca. Knight recalls that everything was alive; that she lived so rigorously in the present that there was no thought about the future. Knight and Lawrence moved to Seattle in 1971, when Jacob accepted a teaching post in the art school at the University of Washington.

Knight's paintings, spanning more than sixty years in New York and Seattle, demonstrate one artist's determination to make art. There was no career path or external motivation to drive her, only a belief that making art was a way of life. The skillful, intellectual, and emotionally sensitive works in this book pull the viewer into a world that is both controlled and fluid. Never Late for Heaven shows a painter whose long life and good fortune have delivered her to us, with her art work, right on time.

Never Late for Heaven accompanied a 2003 exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum featuring paintings from the Francine Seders Gallery in Seattle.

Author Notes

Sheryl Conkelton was co-author and co-curator of Annette Messager. She contributed an essay to Deep Storage: Arsenal of memory and edited and wrote for Frederick Sommer: Selected Texts and Bibliography.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Published in conjunction with the 2003 exhibition of Knight's paintings at Tacoma Art Museum, Never Late for Heaven represents the first monograph dedicated to the art of this living, gifted African American woman painter. Knight's art has been overshadowed by the paintings of her celebrated husband, Jacob Lawrence. They were together for nearly six decades and unlike the situations in other artists' marriages, Knight's work emerges as wholly her own. Essays, with useful footnotes, by Sheryl Conkelton and Barbara Thomas, bring details of Knight's life and work to light as they relate to the times and many places she called home. This slim book is beautifully illustrated in color, including many paintings reproduced for the first time, revealing how Knight was open to broad and innovative formal trends in American art while remaining true to her first love--figurative art. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through professionals. M. R. Vendryes York College, CUNY

Table of Contents

Janeanne A. UppBarbara Earl ThomasSheryl Conkelton
Forewordp. 7
Never Late for Heavenp. 9
Gwendolyn Knight: A Life in Artp. 21
Platesp. 39
Exhibition Checklistp. 82