A painter, illustrator, print maker, and educator, Mervin Jules is known for painting and illustration that focuses on social commentary and that often employs satire. He "typically uses dramatic and evocative lighting where sinewy figures emerge from darkened backgrounds, much like the paintings of Honore Daumier."
He was very active as a print maker, having been a designer of silk prints and china painter as a young man growing up in Baltimore. During the Depression of the 1930s, he was a member of the Silk Screen Unit of the Fine Arts Project of the WPA.
Jules studied art at Baltimore City College, and on scholarship at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts where he graduated in 1934. In 1937, he enrolled at the Art Students League with Thomas Hart Benton. He had his first one-man exhibition in November, 1937 in New York City, and in this show had small tempera panels, and a series of Pennsylvania coal-country theme gouache paintings.
Teaching included Fieldston School, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City from 1943 to 1946; the Baltimore Educatonal Alliance; and Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts from 1946 to 1969. Upon leaving Smith, he became Chair of the Art Department of the City College of New York, and also maintained a studio in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
He illustrated American Screenprints by Reba and Dave Williams, 1987.
Memberships included the Provincetown Art Association, Audubon Artists, American Art Congress, and United American Artists.
Exhibition Venues: "Baltimore Museum of Art, 1936-46; Whitney Museum of American Art, 1938, 1940-49; Art Institute of Chicago, 1938-41; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annual, 1939, 1943, 1948-50; Museum of Modern Art, 1941 (prize); "World's Fair, New York", 1939; Golden Gate Exposition, 1939; Carnegie Institute, 1941, 1944-45; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1946; Library of Congress, 1940, 1945-46; Library of Congress, 1945; Brooklyn Museum; Corcoran Gallery of Art biennial, 1945; ACA Gallery, New York City, 1940s; San Francisco World's Fair; American American Artists for Victory (sent to England); Boston Printmakers, 1967 (19th annual Exhibition, honorable mention ). Awards: Asian-African Study Program grant to Japan, 1967; Alfred Vance Churchill Foundation grant, 1967.