Scrapbook: Nostalgic New York and the Harlem heroines who inspired our Jump At The Sun collection
Our most recent collection, JUMP AT THE SUN, invites you to become acquainted with twelve women who made a lasting impact on the creative arts in the United States almost a century ago.
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While each Obus collection is typically influenced by a geographic destination, JUMP AT THE SUN celebrates a group of trailblazing American women whose contribution to the arts and culture in New York in the 1920s and 30s left an indelible mark on the world. From charismatic writer Zora Neale Hurston to brazen performer and musician Gladys Bentley, these heroines of the arts were luminaries in the Harlem Renaissance movement, a period between World War One and the great depression where a new wave of diversity and inclusiveness in the arts took hold.
If you follow us on Instagram, you might have already seen us post about our #obusheroes - women who in the past and the present inspire us with their creativity, dynamism and influence. JUMP AT THE SUN is a natural extension of that.
The exclusive Obus prints and styles within this collection pay homage to key figures from the movement. Here’s a little background about each of these remarkable women:
L-R: Writer Zora Neale Hurston; performer Gladys Bentley; performer Florence Mills
Zora Neale Hurston was a charismatic and energetic novelist and playwright. Heavily influenced by her mother - who encouraged Zora and her siblings to ‘jump at the sun’ and pursue all that they desired from life - her confidence as a black woman at that time infected all those who met her.
Gladys Bentley was a talented singer, piano player and had early success with the Broadway set of NYC. Openly gay, she became hugely popular at various clubs in the city with her risque performances which often involved cross-dressing, drag queens, flirtatious and inuendo-filled song lyrics and performances that challenged and delighted the audiences of the day. Similarly, musical performer and star of the vaudeville scene Florence Mills broke many racial barriers in her short career before passing away from illness at just 31 years of age.
L-R: Singer Marian Anderson; actress Blanche Dunn; actress Fredi Washington
Marian Anderson was an acclaimed singer who travelled the world playing venues such as Carnegie Hall and the White House. Her popularity influenced the evolution of many attitudes about segregation in performance venues across the United States. Actresses Blanche Dunn and Fredi Washington both dabbled in broadway and cabaret - each with stints as chorus girls. Washington continued on to have a successful film career (with a side of activism) while Dunn is best remembered as the ‘it’ girl of the day.
L-R: Artist/textile designer Lois Mailou Jones; writer Nella Larsen; editor Jessie Redmon Fauset
Lois Mailou Jones was a multidisciplinary textile designer and artist whose decades-long internationally-acclaimed career is still recognised today. She was heavily influenced by her travels throughout Europe and the Caribbean, which is evident in her brightly coloured palettes.
Nella Larsen was a friend of many in the Harlem Renaissance movement and published two critically successful novels. But it was Jessie Redmon Fauset, working behind the scenes as an editor, who helped to bring a new generation of African American voices to the American literary scene in the early-mid 1900s. Jessie also wrote and produced several works about contemporary middle-class African Americans, including poetry.
L-R: Sculptor Augusta Savage; playwright Regina Anderson; post Helene Johnson