Kyra Markham was an accomplished painter, muralist, printmaker and actress. In her social realism prints and paintings, she often portrayed people in their daily pursuits, including musicians, actors and down-on-their-luck street dwellers. During the Depression, Markham worked for the Federal Arts Project, a New Deal program that provided employment for artists. Later, during World War II, she created patriotic works for the war effort.
Markham was born in Chicago in 1891 as Elaine Hyman. She studied at Chicago Art Institute but eventually left her studies to become an actress. In 1930, Markham resumed her art studies at the Art Students League in New York, where she studied under Alexander Abels. She worked as an artist for the rest of her life. After moving to Haiti in 1960, she painted scenes from her new home. Markham died in Haiti in 1967 at age 66.