Wadsworth Jarrell is an African American painter, sculptor, and printmaker. Jarrell attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and after graduation, joined the local Chicago arts scene. His art depicts the working life of African Americans in Chicago and was inspired by the sights and sounds of jazz music. In the late 1960s he opened WJ Studio and Gallery where, along with his wife Jae, he hosted regional artists and musicians. Jarrell’s career took him to Africa in 1977, where he found inspiration in the masks and sculptures of Nigeria. Jarrell was one of the founders of the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA), an African American artists collective that formed in 1968 in Chicago. He also contributed to the Wall of Respect, which was a montage of portraits of heroes and heroines of African American history painted on the side of a building on the south side of Chicago.
Throughout his life, Wadsworth created art that captures the beauty and power of black lives, creating portraits and scenes in vibrant colors that influence and inspire contemporary artists.