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Benny Andrews; painter captured segregated South

NEW YORK -- Benny Andrews, a painter and teacher whose work drew on memories of his childhood in the segregated South, died of cancer Friday at his home in Brooklyn, his wife, Nene Humphrey, said.

Mr. Andrews painted socially conscious works that addressed issues including the civil rights movement, the Holocaust, and the forced relocation of American Indians.

Even in an era dominated by abstract art, he exhibited his work in galleries and won awards and prizes, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1974.

His work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Hirshborn Museum in Washington, among others.

Mr. Andrews was born in Plainview, Ga., to a family of sharecroppers. He was one of 10 children, who all worked in the cotton fields. In 1948 he became the first member of his family to graduate from high school.

He served in the Air Force from 1950 to 1953 and used the GI Bill to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

He moved to New York in 1958 and had his first solo exhibition, at Forum Gallery, in 1962.

Mr. Andrews taught art at Queens College from 1968 to 1997 and established an art program in New York state's prison system.

Earlier this year he traveled to the Gulf Coast to work on an art project with children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

In addition to his wife, he leaves three children and four grandchildren.

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