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Four Elements

Vaughn Stubbs

by Synatra Smith, Ph.D. on 2022-05-26T12:00:00-04:00 in Black Artists | 0 Comments

Vaughn Stubbs, born in 1946 in Reading, Pennsylvania, was a painter, sculptor, jewelry maker, and quilter. He was introduced to art through evening lessons in the kitchen of his family home from his sister, Pam. After graduating from Reading Senior High School in 1966, Stubbs was drafted into the US Army. As a conscientious objector, he was a field artist in Vietnam but also painted, taught art and photography, and escorted celebrity performers at USO shows. In 1970 Stubbs was discharged from the Army and subsequently earned a certificate in painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1972. He first lived in the Powelton Village neighborhood in West Philadelphia and then moved to Chancellor Street in Center City. 

Stubbs taught art classes for visually impaired students at the Philadelphia Museum of Art beginning in 1974 and at the Senior Adult Activity Center in Norristown from 1986 to 2000. He also taught art at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office of Catholic Education, as well as at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Stubbs consulted with Charles L. Blockson, founder of the African American Museum in Philadelphia, to paint a portrait of Paul Robeson, commissioned on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s birth in 1998. Additionally, he was inspired by the Gee’s Bend quilters to learn to sew and begin making quilts and soft sculptures.[1] Stubbs moved to the Spruce Hill section of West Philadelphia a few years before he died of cancer on February 25, 2016, at the Veterans Community Living Center in the University City neighborhood of West Philadelphia. 

PMA Collection

PMA Library


[1] See past posts about the Gee’s Bend quilters:  Annie E. Pettway, Delia Bennett Irene Williams, Loretta Pettway, Louisiana Pettway Bendolph, Martha Jane Pettway, Mary Lee Bendolph, Nettie Young, Sue Willie Seltzer



Courtney, Julie. 2017. Bedazzling: The Artistic Inventions of Vaughn Stubbs. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Art Alliance. Accessed February 28, 2022.

Tomczuk, Jack. 2016. “Vaughn Stubbs, 69, Prominent African American Artist.” Obituary. Philadelphia Inquirer. Accessed February 28, 2022.

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