Martell® Cognac and Janelle Monáe Spotlight Harlem Renaissance Art Icon Loïs Mailou Jones
Martell, the oldest of the great Cognac houses, proudly unveils the latest chapter in its “Soar Beyond the Expected” campaign, centered around the remarkable story of prolific artist and pioneer in Black, women’s and art history, Loïs Mailou Jones. In a new spot narrated by Martell partner and world-renowned musician, actor and artist, Janelle Monáe, Martell sheds light on Jones’ legacy and artwork. While widely celebrated today, in post-war Paris, Jones only entered and received praise by American exhibitions under the guise of a white woman. Nearly 100 years later, Jones’ story and life work serves as the inspiration for Martell’s latest commitment to empower and uplift the next generation of creatives.
Loïs Mailou Jones was the longest-surviving artist of the Harlem Renaissance who attained fame while living in Paris during the 1930s and 1940s. Influenced by the movement, Jones’ established a Parisian-style salon upon her stateside return, dubbed ‘The Little Paris Group’, where local Black artists and students could thrive creatively, hone their skills and exchange critiques. Often surrounded by influential identities such as presidents, world leaders and prominent figures like Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker and Carter G. Woodson, Jones was a multi-hyphenate talent who championed African American art and the Black Diaspora throughout her decades-long career as a pioneer painter and educator.
On March 23rd at The Bishop Gallery, a Black-owned art gallery in Brooklyn, Martell’s Little Paris Group will deliver on the mission of Jones’ historic salon and resurrect the original Little Paris Group in 2023. The space will follow the same principles that Jones established years ago, alongside mentors of both traditional and modern art disciplines to produce a creative hub that uplifts artists and provides them with a sense of community and artistic advancement.
Featuring workshops by leading artists spanning traditional and modern art disciplines, Emonee Larussa, Blue the Great and Sophia Victor, the space is designed to allow up and coming artists to evolve artistically and personally as Jones intended. An archival selection of Loïs Mailou Jones’ artworks and artifacts, featuring pieces from throughout her career and historic items from the original Little Paris Group, licensed from The Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust, will also be on display for artists to draw inspiration.
“As an artist myself, I am honored to join Martell in the revival of The Little Paris Group,” said Monáe. Pioneers like Jones have paved the way for many women and artists who walk in similar shoes today. It is important that we shine a spotlight on her experiences and mission to build spaces, like her historic salon, that are designed to uplift and create a dialogue to inspire the future of creativity.”
Since the founding of Martell, the cognac producer has been pushing the boundaries of possibility, as embodied by a category first: Martell Blue Swift. As the first cognac house to ship its barrels to America in 1793, Martell is committed to driving positive change and celebrating those – like Jones – who boldly redefine convention to benefit the many instead of conforming to codes that favor the few. In this spirit, the brand is investing in Janelle Monáe’s Fem the Future platform, as well as the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, to fund projects that continue to advance opportunities and education for BIPOC women.
“Like the ‘Swift’ that adorns each bottle and flies more than 350 miles per day, Martell Blue Swift is crafted for those who soar higher, those who – like Loïs Mailou Jones – have redefined convention and cultivated their own way forward in the face of adversity,” says Charlotte Raux, Senior Brand Manager, Martell Cognac at Pernod Ricard USA. “The impact of Jones uniquely reminds us that Black History is an important part of Women’s History. In honoring and understanding this truth, Martell stands as a brand that celebrates Black History and uplifts all women to soar beyond the expected.”
Today, despite the odds, Jones is historically recognized as the longest-surviving artist of the Harlem Renaissance and her works have been acquired by several U.S. museums. Jones’ teachings have lived on as she remains an important role model for other African American artists.
Aspiring artists aged 21+ in the tri-state area interested in the one-day-only workshops can learn more about how to apply for one of the limited seats by clicking here: www.MartellLittleParisGroup.com. To learn more about Martell or the Little Paris Group, visit https://www.martell.com/en-us or follow at @martellusa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.