Founding AfriCOBRA member Wadsworth Jarrell was born in 1929 in Albany, Ga. and moved to Chicago in the mid-1950s. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was awarded a BFA in 1958. As a member of the Organization for Black American Culture (OBAC), he helped execute the famous “Wall of Respect” outdoor mural on the South Side of Chicago in 1967. That same year he married fellow artist Elaine “Jae” Jarrell.
In 1968, The Jarrells co-founded the artist collective AfriCOBRA along with Jeff Donaldson, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams. In 1971, Wadsworth began teaching in the art department at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and received his MFA in 1974. In 1978, Jarrell and his family moved to Athens, Ga., where he taught painting at the University of Georgia. He retired from teaching in 1988. He continues to work as an artist and is represented by several prominent commercial art galleries in the U.S. “If you can get to bebop, you can get to me. That is where the truth is.”