For nearly seven decades, Loïs Mailou Jones forged an eclectic artistic path, the profound influence of which linked generations of African American artists across the 20th century, from the Harlem Renaissance through AfriCOBRA. Throughout her career, Jones maintained an enduring engagement with African ceremonial motifs and aesthetics, including patterned textiles and striated Songye kifwebe masks from Central Africa and shiny Dan masks from Ivory Coast and Liberia. During the 1930s and 1940s, artists, writers, and thinkers associated with the Harlem Renaissance and Négritude movements positioned traditional African plastic art forms, especially masks and textiles, in a forward vision of modernity. This searching spirit is exhibited in Africa, a 1935 painting depicting three women – Jones’ most common subject – with chiselled features, gash-like closed eyes, and elaborate gold jewellery, who are surrounded by lush foliage. The trio’s elongated features and flat expressions evoke those often found on African masks, a subject she would also explore in celebrated works like Les Fétiches (1938). In this painting, Jones pays tribute to the foundational role of Africa in the cultural imagination of African American artists at the time, especially for women artists of the diaspora, whose identities were multiple.