The Middle Passage and Beyond

The Middle Passage is a term used to describe the leg of the Atlantic slave trade that transported people from Africa to North America,South America and the Caribbean. It was called the Middle Passage as the slave trade was a form of Triangular trade; boats left Europe, went to Africa, then to America, and then returned to Europe.( http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/Africaweb/factfile/africauniquefact6.htm). Tens of Millions of lives were lost.Slavery existed in America from 1620 to 1865, (245) years,followed by Reconstruction, Jim Crow Laws and Segregation.The items in this exhibition chronicle the hope and perseverance of the African American journey in the US.It is for all who may find themselves in a strange land enduring an oppressive state; it is a story of overcoming that oppression and a story of hope for all humanki

From the SCAD Museum of Art exhibition Sculptures, Drawings and Prints Medium: bronze Dimension: Tabletop Richard Hunt is an acclaimed sculptor with works in numerous American cities. He is know to use abstract and industrial type materials in his work. This piece the Middle Passage symbolizes the passage of Africans into the Americas. It is a ship-like structure with figures they appear to be people. The piece is very dark and gives a sense horror and fear of the unknown. The model has yet to be fabricated.
Location: Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool Medium: Oil on canvas, 184 x 308cm Classification: Painting The painting depicts two runaway slaves being chased by dogs for capture. The man is shown fending off the dogs with an axe. You can sense the high emotion and drama from both the slaves and the dogs. One dog’s looks to already be slayed by the slaves. The colors used help to frame the drama at hand. This piece was done a year before the civil war broke and close to the abolishment of slavery Richard Ansdell was an english painter who has done mostly oil paintings of animals. Although Britiain had abolished the slave trade in 1807 slaves were not freed until 1834.
(American, Urbana, Ohio 1830–1910 New York) Date: 1863, cast 1891 Medium: Bronze) Classification: Sculpture "The Freedman arose from a desire for sculpture that addressed current issues, rather than the less tangible ideals prevalent in Neoclassical works. Not only does this piece offer a commentary on the chief political and moral topic of the era, but it also proclaims Ward's abolitionist sentiments. The broken manacles of servitude on the former slave's left wrist and in his right hand state in basic terms the essence of the sculpture. The muscular figure is executed with remarkable attention to realistic physiognomy and anatomy"(http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1979.394). I picked this piece because of what the name Freedman, which later became Freeman which a last name was given to many freed slaves. I also like the strength of character shown. The muscular build of the subject and the position of his head. He has a look of confidence and HOPE for the future. The Freedman.
The Bright Side (1865) By Winslow Homer Location: de Young Museum Medium: Oil on Canvas Dimensions are 33.7 cm (13.27 in.) x 44.5 cm (17.52 in.)[2] Classification: Painting The Bright Side, 1865, is an oil painting by Winslow Homer of four African American Union Army teamsters, three sitting on the sunny side of a tent. The bright color on the tent symbolizes a better time is coming for Africans Americans. The title refers to former slaves who are now in the Union army, but the "bright side " is that they no longer have to fight in the Civil War which begins bringing to light the more political side of the war. The artitist Home Winslow was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1836. He is best known for his marine subjects and considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America.
Sunday Morning in Virginia (1877) By Winslow Homer Location: Cincinnati Art Museum Medium: Oil on Canvas Classification: Painting I especially picked this piece for the story it tells and the importance of education. The [piece was done when it was still illegal for Blacks to read in certain states. Adults who knew how to would secretly teach children. The Bible would be the only book most would have and there would be only one to share between many. Winslow the artist of this piece also was known to paint many renderings of freed slaves. The scene is very serious yet calm; the muted colors bring a togetherness of all involved.
A Dog Swap (1881) By Richard Norris Brook Location: Smithsonian American Art Museum 2nd Floor, East Wing Medium: Oil on Canvas Classification: Painting The artist Richard Norris Brooke (1847-1920) was born and lived in Warrenton, Virginia, the town burned down in 1909, including Brooke’s studio. He did keep a log book of his work. Brooke painted many African-American subjects and landscapes. The painting show several generations of a Black family with the two central character the two dogs and two men, probably getting ready to hurt and swap dogs. It seems to be a lazy day, but the dogs are being expressive with the darker dog a look of wonderment and the lighter dog not sure of what their owners may want to do. The painting what done during the Romantic Period where use of color, shading and light was used to express emotion, much like the Dutch art period before it.
African-American Cowboys with Their Mounts Sadd... (1911 - 1915) By Erwin E. Smith Location: Amon Carter Museum of American Art Medium: Photograph A little known fact some of the first cowboys were black. "Black cowboys have been part of Texas history since the early nineteenth century, when they first worked on ranches throughout the state. A good many of the first black cowboys were born into slavery but later found a better life on the open range, where they experienced less open discrimination than in the city. After the Civil War many were employed as horsebreakers and for other tasks, but few of them became ranch foremen or managers" (https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/arb0) The photographer Erwin Smith (1886-1947) has been referred to as "one of the greatest photographers of cowboy life who ever lived."(1) He created engaging and action-filled images of cowboys and ranch life that have come to symbolize the universal western cowboy type. Smith's accomplishments as a photographer of cowboy and ranch life at the beginning of the twentieth century are manifest in the more than 1,500 photographic prints in the Prints & Photographs Division's collections. (http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/234_smit.html) I choose this picture because it talks about one of lesser known contributions of African Americans to our Nation. I also love black and white photos they seem more real true to life. I suggest you enlarge this one for its artistic value.
SStudy for Aspects of Negro Life: An Idyll of the Deep South, (1934) By Aaron Douglas Location The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Medium :Gouache over pencil on artist board Dimension: 15 x 29 3/16 inches (38.1 x 74.14 cm) The preeminent visual artist of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s, Aaron Douglas created this gouache as the study for the third panel of a mural project for the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library. Showcasing Douglas’ signature graphic style, derived from European Cubism and African art, the series narrates African American experiences from origins in Africa to 20th-century migrations to northern cities in the United States. An Idyll of the Deep South depicts, from right to left, agricultural labor to the tragic injustices in the South after Reconstruction. The star and ray of light reference the Underground Railroad’s directive to “follow the North Star,” while Douglas’ concentric circles link individual parts of the narrative to the whole. I see this picture depicting the great migration of the early 1900's -1930's of Blacks leaving the rural South for better opportunities in the North and better treatment. I like the use of the translucence figures to symbolize one t=but the same. I wonder how the new migration will be captured as now Northerners are moving back to South. Also the light cutting through though picture to lead us, I rather think of it as God shining down on us. Information on the Medium Gouache uses gum arabic as a binding agent like watercolor paint but the pigment particles are much larger. Gouache is known for its ability to reflect light and for opaque strength of the paint.
The Band By Edward Burra Location: British Council Media: Water Color The Band depicts a Harlem Night Club. The bright colors give a sense of a good time, things are better. African Americans in some parts of the country are living a good life. The bold use of watercolor and the vivid color makes one what to join in. The Harlem Renaissance mark as great time for African Americans and their contributions to the Arts.(1920'-mid 1930's)
Langston Hughes (c., 1925) By Winold Reiss Location: National Portrait Gallery Classification: Drawing Medium: Pastels on illustration board I chose the portrait of Langston Hughes as he is one of the prominent poets in from the United States. He is certainly the top poet of the Harlem Renaissance. A pastel of Langston Hughes, drawn by Winold Reiss in 1925 (p. 108), at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, captures what many consider to be the quintessential Hughes, deep in thought over an empty notebook. The Artist Winold Reiss was born in Germany and best know his portraits of Naive and African Americans. He was commissioned in 1924 to illustrate for a magazine Survey Graphic to capture the "spirit of the Harlem Renaissance
Mary McLeod Bethune (1943) By Betsy Graves Reyneau Location: National Portrait Gallery Classification: Painting Medium: oil on canvas I chose this portrait as I want to show and accomplished strong African American female. The stance exudes confidence and of course the choice of blue dress symbolizes power. I like her own comment concerning the cane. Bethune had no physical need for the cane she holds in her portrait. She used it, she said, to give herself "swank". She founded Bethune-Cookman College. The artist Betsy Grave Reyneau is an American painter and best known for her portraits of several prominent African Americans. Name such as Martin Luther King Jr., Charles Drew, George Washington Carver, Raplh Bunche and many more. She studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and many of her painting are displayed in the National Portrait Gallery
The Builder (1947) By Jacob Lawrence Location: The White House Classification: Painting Medium: Tempura on board Brilliant, saturated orange-red startles our eyes and commands our attention. It is a hot red, to some eyes almost fluorescent, and it may owe its singularity to the medium—egg tempera, notable for its purity and brilliance. Tempera was undergoing an artistic revival in America when Jacob Lawrence was beginning his career and he is one of the finest twentieth-century artists who used the medium. These rectilinear red blocks are played against and interlocked with smaller areas of black, creating a shallow space. Black may suggest recession in shadow or a window into the picture plane. Black is also the color of the ladders, the plumb lines and bobs, and many arms, hats, shoes and a pavement. Brown and gray-brown patches, produced perhaps by brushing gray over the gessoed and primed wood panel, whose grain is still evident, are used for horizontal beams or plywood panels. Blue is also important, for modeling and for the diagonals that animate the basic compositional grid. This simple but sophisticated palette is found often in Lawrence’s paintings and it is memorable. His masterful art is significant not only for its instantly recognizable color, but for its conviction, for the moral content that may aptly be summarized as aspiration. That aspiration is focused on the insistent claim to equality by black Americans, but it is cast in terms also easily understood by those Americans who saw their status and their promise rise from the depths of the Great Depression through the crucible of the Second World War and into the prosperous post-war period. Lawrence was of that generation. Born in New Jersey, he grew up in Harlem and it was Harlem, specifically, that prepared him for his career, technically and thematically. The intellectual ferment that characterized the Harlem Renaissance was not confined to literature and the young Lawrence was one of its prime beneficiaries. He treats this broad theme with compositional rigor. The red and black blocks described above are given movement and order by the decisive left to right gestural diagonals of many of the workmen, stressed by the blue reserved for this purpose. There is also an emotive use of reiteration, for instance the upturned heads of two of the men, or in the two strangely affecting plumb bobs, hanging like hearts against the red ground. And is the pose of the man on the ladder a half-conscious memory of a religious subject—the lowering of Christ from the Cross—a theme of salvation? Jacob Lawrence was a modernist in American art—his painting has been termed “narrative synthetic cubism”—but he was an African-American man who had plumbed the depths of the black experience, and measured the ladders, the means of ascent. I love all the symbolizein this is piece. the movement the bright colors the theme of working together towards a better end. The picture gives a sense of progression in a forward manner. Note on the medium
Strange Fruit (996) By Robyne Latham Location: Northern Territory (MAGNT) Medium: Stoneware Ceramic Strange Fruit a reference to a term used after the KKK would lynch African American in trees and leave their bodies hanging like fruit. There are more other graphic pictures however I chose to depict the strange fruit this way. The two pieces of usual fruit like ceramic figures symbolize that strange fruit. The artist is Robyne Latham from Melbourne she has been into art for over 30 years and describes her work as being in the Meta physical realm. Billie Holiday made a song Strange Fruit which I have attached.
Emerging Man, Harlem (1953) By Gordon Parks Classification Photograph Location: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Medium: Gelatin silver print Dimensions: 8 9/16 x 12 13/16 inches Emerging Man we are rising up from the dirt. African American's are seeing with their eyes wide open. Another black and white image with highlighting of the head especially the eyes of the central character. The hands above ground as if ready to lift himself completely up. The look is more of determination than hope as seen in other characters. Ready to live out our country's creed that all men are created equal. It seems to be just before dawn. Time to rise.
Hope Poster By Shepard Fairey Location: MoSA, 78, rue Amelot Paris 75011 Medium: Poster Whether you agree with his politics or not, the message here is about HOPE. The Hope that started the day the first slaves arrived here. That Hope in the Freedman's eyes as he slightly turned his head and looked upward. The hope of so many that the world will change someday. The same HOPE shown by now President Obama, with his head slightly turned and eyes upward. Perfection is only left to the creator and we all hope for a netter world. We look for hero's there are many but each one of us can be a hero. As you can see you can overcome anything you just have to get the HOPE. The Barack Obama "Hope" poster is an image of Barack Obama designed by artist Shepard Fairey, which was widely described as iconic and came to represent the 2008 Obama presidential campaign. It consists of a stylized stencil portrait of Obama in solid red, beige and (pastel and dark) blue, with the word "progress", "hope", or "change" below (and other words in some versions). I hope you have enjoyed my exhibit.
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