No other storied American painter has celebrated the building trades quite like Jacob Lawrence. From the 1930s to 2000, he completed more than 60 paintings  and countless studies titled “Builders” that capture, in a style often called “visual blues,” his admiration for “people, forces in the world that build community.”

The “Builders” works were inspired by Lawrence’s experience as a teenager hanging out at a local cabinet shop. “When I was fifteen or sixteen,” he’s reported saying, “I was exposed to the workshop of these three brothers in Harlem, cabinetmakers ... They worked with tools that were aesthetically beautiful, like sculpture.”

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