Two silhouetted figures in lower right corner. One, a nude woman, kneels facing left and raises a clenched fist in front of her. The other looks like child and appears to dive through the woman's mid-section from left to right. The silhouettes are printed over the corner of an image of a large column of Union soldiers marching along a road with a row of buildings to the left and a river full of boats to the right. Civilians line either side of the street and are shown cheering the soldiers with their hands raised and waving. An American flag is in the pictorial center of the composition.
Contemporary artist Kara Walker’s work reminds us of the inherent subjectivity of historical perspective. This work is one of 15 prints belonging to Walker’s powerful series in which she enlarges selected images from two volumes of Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (1866–68) and then “annotates” them by superimposing her signature silhouettes, thereby disrupting the original narrative. Walker inserts issues of racial stereotypes, slavery, gender, and the violence of oppression otherwise absent in these mid-19th century representations.
-Ellen Alvord, Weatherbie Curator of Education and Academic Programs, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2016)
diaspora; slavery; African American
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