TRITOBIA H. BENJAMIN

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  • "RIP Dr. Toby! A wonderful, amazing artist, scholar, and..."
    - Kadidia Thiero
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BENJAMIN TRITOBIA HAYES BENJAMIN (Age 69) On Saturday, June 21, 2014, surrounded by her loving children, family and friends, she peacefully transitioned at The Capital Care Hospice of Arlington, VA. Long before and during her ongoing and final battle with cancer, the study of African-American culture was her passion and the beacon that charted Tritobia Hayes Benjamin's path. She was driven to document the contribution of African Americans in the field of American Art History- her focus for more than four decades. Born October 22, 1944, to Addie (nee Murph) and Wesley E. Hayes, Sr. in Brinkley, Arkansas, she was the third of five children: Wesley E. Hayes, Jr., Grace Hayes Blagdon, Paul L. Hayes, and Bernetta Hayes Powell. She graduated with honors from Horace Mann High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1962, and selected Howard University as her choice for higher education. Toby, as she was affectionately known, entered Howard in the fall of that year. Initially a Zoology major, after she met her husband to be, Donald S. Benjamin (1938 - 2011) in 1964, she changed her concentration to art history in the formerly named College of Fine Arts. There, under the guidance of James A. Porter, known as the father of African-American art history, Tritobia received the foundation of her passion in the history of African-American art. She received her B.A. (1968) and her M.A. (1970) degrees in American Art History at Howard University. Tritobia Hayes Benjamin returned to the classroom as a student in the doctoral program at the University of Maryland, College Park and studied with David C. Driskell, world-renowned scholar of African-American art and artistry. She received her Ph.D. in American Art History with a concentration in African-American Art in 1991. Her academic work was mainly as a faculty member of Howard University's College of Fine Arts (now Division of Fine Art) from 1970 until her retirement in June 2012. As an art historian, Tritobia's service and expertise were in demand throughout the United States and abroad. Her list of consultancies, awards, lectureships, and jurorships was extensive and impressive. She undertook professional study tours in Africa, Europe, and the United States. Her professional memberships portrayed the life and energies of a scholar and practitioner who was committed to excellence in the field of African-American art history. Towards that end, she published more than 20 articles including the "Introduction" in James A. Porter, Artist and Art Historian: The Memory of Legacy; "Profiles of Eleven African-American Artists"; and "The Image of Women in the Work of Charles White." She also wrote the book: The Life and Art of Lois Mailou Jones. She is survived by her children: Zalika, Aminah, and Anwar; her siblings: Wesley E. Hayes, Jr. (Virginia); Grace Hayes Blagdon; Paul L. Hayes; and Bernetta Hayes Powell (John); and a host of relatives; colleagues; co-workers and friends. Memorial Services shall be held at the Howard University Crampton Auditorium on Friday, September 5, 2014 from 3 to 5 p.m. She is survived by her children: Zalika, Aminah, and Anwar; her siblings: Wesley E. Hayes, Jr. (Virginia); Grace Hayes Blagdon; Paul L. Hayes; and Bernetta Hayes Powell (John); and a host of relatives; colleagues; co-workers and friends. Memorial Services shall be held at the Howard University Crampton Auditorium on Friday, September 5, 2014 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Published in The Washington Post on July 20, 2014