As an African-American woman, Loïs Mailou Jones was double-hexed when it came to cracking into the white boys club of the art world during much of the 20th century. A dogged and dedicated artist, she kept on, and toward the end of her long life — she died in 1998, at 92 — her work began to garner the attention it merited.
“Loïs Mailou Jones,” a retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts, is too small (with less than 30 works) to effectively flesh out this artist’s development, but it does demonstrate that Jones had ample talents in realism, postimpressionism, textile design, and more. It wasn’t until she brought these influences together in her mature work that the power of her vision truly crystallized. That, too, may be a reason her career didn’t catch fire early on.