Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Eleventh Stack are celebrating Black History Month by highlighting books, music and movies by African American Artists. We also have a ton of great events and programs for children, teens and adults. You can view all of our Black History Month posts here. The following is a guest post by Pittsburgher J. Malls, who has studied and researched Mozelle Thompson over the past several years, and put together an exhibit of more than 100 records featuring the artist’s work.
In January 2013, I was listening to Buddah Records’ 1969 release of Black America Vol. 2: The Man of Love, Dr. Martin Luther King when the liner notes caught my eye. They include a paragraph about the artist who illustrated the album cover. Mozelle Thompson. “Mozelle Thompson was born in Pittsburgh, PA. He is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design and attended the Art Students League and New York University. He is a profuse illustrator of book jackets and record covers. His magazine illustrations and theatre posters are known throughout the United States, while his courses in commercial art and window display are attended widely.”
I was intrigued as to who this native Pittsburgh artist was and why I’d never heard of him before. The finite amount of information available online didn’t deter me from researching and digging for more. After twenty two months of combing through microfilm at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, tracking down and interviewing Thompson’s family members and piecing together articles, I identified more than one hundred twenty Mozelle Thompson illustrated LPs and EPs. With a short career (1953-1969), Thompson appears to be the only prolific African-American artist to illustrate album covers. He was a pioneer in his industry, working alongside the first generation artists who contributed to the history of album cover art within the first fifteen years of its existence.
Read the rest of the article here on Eleventh Stack.