Jones was especially sensitive to the rights and roles of women. For many years she felt forced to ship rather than deliver her work in person so museums would not reject them because they had been done by a black female artist. In Initiation, Liberia, she interpreted the Sande society initiation ritual. The swath of white paint across the young woman’s eyes indicates her role as an initiate. The mask partly obscures her distinctive personality but combined with the receding profiles at the left of her head, suggests continuity over generations that is implied by the ritual ceremony.


  • Title: Initiation, Liberia
  • Creator: Lois Mailou Jones
  • Date Created: 1983
  • Physical Dimensions: 35 1/4 x 23 1/4 in. (89.6 x 59.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of the artist
  • Artist: Born Boston, MA 1905 – Died Washington, D.C. 1998
  • Medium: acrylic on canvas

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