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Calvin Burnett papers, 1920-1979, bulk 1960s-1970s

Biographical Note

Calvin Burnett (1921-2007) was a graphic artist, illustrator, and arts educator. He graduated from the Massachusetts School of Art (also known as MassArt; now the Massachusetts College of Art and Design) in 1942, and earned his MFA from Boston University in 1960. He later received another degree in arts education. Burnett taught at a number of institutions in the Northeast, including the DeCordova Museum and the Massachusetts School of Art, where he was the first African American to be appointed to the faculty, and where he taught for 33 years.
While on the faculty at the Massachusetts School of Art, Burnett was involved with the Black Artists Union, the Committee on Urban Education, and the Committee on Minority Affairs. Among their many functions, these groups advocated for more diverse representation in faculty and more funding for minority and disadvantaged students.
In 1966, Burnett published the book, Objective Drawing, about perspective. His interest in the subject and the idea for the book grew out of his teaching the perspective course at the Massachusetts School of Art (Oral history interview with Calvin Burnett, 1980 June 13-1981 January 6. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Transcript p.41).