Carl Hancock Rux, The Baptism, Directed by Carried Mae Weems, 2020.











In a NYT review of the film, Manohla Dargis praised what she called the power of DuVernay's film and its meticulous marshaling of facts. She said, summarizing the film, "The United States did not just criminalize a select group of black people. It criminalized black people as a whole, a process that, in addition to destroying untold lives, effectively transferred the guilt for slavery from the people who perpetuated it to the very people who suffered through it." - Wikipedia

Jammie Holmes, I Can't Breathe from the Sky Writing series, 2020.






















Mass Encarceration and Visual Narratives











"Radical Edit"

Alexandra Bell, A Teenager With Promise, 2017.











How do works by artists pre-dating and within the Harlem Rennaissance work to critique damaging stereotypes?



William Wetmore Story, Cleopatra, 1869.
Edmonia Lewis, The Death of Cleopatra, 1876.











  "His middle name, Ossawa, was chosen by his father, Benjamin Tucker Tanner, a Methodist minister and abolitionist, after Osawatomie, Kansas—the site of the abolitionist John Brown’s bloody confrontation with pro-slavery partisans on August 30, 1856" (Khalid).
Edward Mitchell Bannister, Apple Trees in a Meadow,
c. 1890

Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Banjo Lesson, 1893.











Meta Warric Fuller, Emancipation Proclamation, 1913. Harriet Tubman Park, Boston, MA.











Daniel Chester French, Africa, 1904.

Meta Warric Fuller, Ethiopia Awakening, 1914.











Primitivism = a style of art that mimics the art of children or untrained artists; a mode of aesthetic idealization that either emulates or aspires to recreate "primitive" experience. In Western art, primitivism typically has borrowed from non-Western or prehistoric people perceived to be "primitive"

Palmer Hayden, Fétiche et Fleurs, 1926.











"Primitivism" in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern at MoMA, 1985
Type of Women
Les Demoiselles D'Avignon
Edmond Fortier, Types of Women, Soudan, 1906.
Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, 1907.











Alain Locke "sought the 'spiritual emancipation' of African Americans through visual art...believ[ing] that the fine arts were a potent vehicle for reconfiguring the image and identity of blacks in America, an identity bogged down by degrading Jim Crow stereotypes" (Farrington, 118).


James Lesesne Wells, Twin Heads, c. 1929

James Latimer Allen, Portrait of James Lesesne Wells, c. 1930











A Commentary on Lynching, 1935


Wilmer Angier Jennigns, At the End of the Rope, 1935.










The Great Migration

First Great Migration 1916 - 1940

  • 1.6 million people move from mostly rural areas in the south to northern industrial cities
  • "Over a period of ten years, 90,000 blacks moved into Harlem and 120,000 whites moved out" (Farrington, 117).
  • https://www.pbs.org/video/african-americans-many-rivers-cross-classroom-life-after-emancipation-proclamation/

Second Great Migration 1940 - 1970

  • At least 5 million people move north and westward
  • https://www.pbs.org/video/african-americans-many-rivers-cross-great-migration/











  • Born in 1892 to Methodist Minister who opposed her interest in art
    • Seventh of fourteen children
  • Married in 1907 and had daughter following year
    • John T. Moore died
  • Married John Savage in 1915
    • Won an award at county fair and was encouraged to enroll in art school
    • Left her daughter in the care of her parents and moved to NY to attend Cooper Union 1919
    • Divorced in 1920s
  • Married Robert L. Poston in 1923
    • Poston died in 1924
Augusta Savage, Gamin, 1929.
Painted plaster.











  • While studying at Cooper Union, in 1923 applied for travel abroad scholarship to France and was rejected because of her race.
    • "This girl is working her hands off to get out of this country so that she can get some sort of training" (Du Bois).
    • Able to study in France with Julius Rosenwald on Carnegie fellowships in 1929
  • 1939 won commission for NY World's Fair
  • 1945 retreated to Catskill Mountains after reuninting with daughter and her family
Augusta Savage, Pair of Dancers, 1934.
Painted plaster.











A crucial intertextual reference to Saidya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, as well as to Africana studies in general, is the work of Black Sociologist, historian, novelist, civil rights activist, and editor of the NAACP’s newsletter The Crisis, W. E. B. Du Bois.

Writing in 1926, in the “Criteria of Negro Art” Du Bois describes the precious few black artists recognized, albeit tepidly, in the western tradition arguing that “We have, to be sure, a few recognized and successful Negro artists; but they are not all those fit to survive or even a good minority. They are but the remnants of that ability and genius among us whom the accidents of education and opportunity have raised on the tidal waves of chance” (999). However concluding, “But today there is coming to both the realization that the work of the black man is not always inferior” (997).

Du Bois affirms that art wields the potential for ending race distinctions, as it coaxes both viewer and maker to look up and beyond the veil and raise ‘a mighty cry’” (1002) where interracial audiences might find common ground. Du Bois argues that through art, the problem of the color line can be overcome, if not dismantled. This stance was in opposition with Langston Hughes’s position, expressed in “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” that race was a burden upon an artist’s creative identity.


Augusta Savage, John Henry, 1940

Augusta Savage, Head of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, 1956.











The New Negro Movement
1917 - 1935
  • Booker T. Washington ed., A New Negro for a New Century, 1900
    • Founder of Tuskegee Institute
  • Emphasized industrial training as a means of cultivating dignity and economic independence
  • Argued that economic self-reliance had to come before demands for social equality
James Van der Zee, c. 1920s











Harlem on My Mind exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, 1968

James Van Der Zee, Couple with a Cadillac, 1932.

James Van Der Zee, The Last Good-bye, 1923.