Ernest Crichlow was born in 1914 in Brooklyn, New York to Barbadian immigrants. He joined the Harlem Artists Guild in 1930 under the tutelage of Augusta Savage. His formal training consisted of work at NYU and the Art Students League in New York.
During his years at the Harlem Art Center, he became associated with many other young artists, including Charles Alston, Elizabeth Catlett, Charles White, Jacob Lawrence, and Romare Bearden. In 1942, Crichlow’s work was shown at New York City’s Downtown Gallery in what is thought to be the first exhibition by black artists. In 1969, Crichlow co- founded the Cinque Gallery with Bearden and Lewis.
He has taught at several schools including New York State University at New Paltz and the Brooklyn Museum Art School.