On this day in 1943, mixed-media artist Napoleon Jones-Henderson was born in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1963, Henderson attended the Sorbonne Student Continuum Student and Artists Center in Paris, France where he participated in a year-long independent study program. Upon completion, he returned to the United States and enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago where he earned his B.F.A. degree in 1971. He continued his education at Northern Illinois University where he earned his M.A.; and then the Maryland Institute College Art, where he earned his M.F.A. in 2005.
At the height of the Chicago Black Arts Movement, in 1968, Henderson became involved with COBRA (Coalition of Black Revolutionary Artists), an artists’ collective in the city. One year later, the group changed their name to AfriCOBRA. Henderson worked with the collective to create very large pictorial weavings to be displayed at the Studio Museum in Harlem. He is the longest-standing member of the group.
Henderson was appointed the Executive Director of the Research Institute of African and African Dispora Arts, Inc. and then went on to serve in several different positions at Malcolm X. College as well as the Massachusetts College of Arts.
In 2011, Henderson created Africobra: Art for the People, a documentary about their involvement and contributions to the Black Arts Movement.
Henderson was appointed associate professor of art at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina in 2005. Additionally, he served as an adjunct artist critic as well as a lecturer at the Vermont College of Norwich University in Montpelier, Vermont.
His artwork can be seen at several museums including DuSable Museum of African American History, Schomburg Center of Research in Black Culture, Southside Community Art Center, Hampton University Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
A pioneer in African American art, Henderson was awarded the Merit of Honor Award from the Walters Art Museum and the Award for Outstanding Recognition from the Museum of Science and Industry; as well as being honored with the National Conference of Artists with the Award of Excellence.