Edward Mitchell Bannister, African American artist, had moved to Philadelphia with his wife Victoria after the civil war from Providence. He did a painting, under the oaks, which was nominated in the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition and it had won him the bronze medal. Edward went to claim his price but was met with a lot of suspicion because it was unheard of for an African-American to receive a national award or even to paint such a nice painting. People in the congregation were irritated by his presence, even the judges were astonished by his presence because they didn’t see him as an artist, they even thought of withholding the prize but the other white painters supported Edward and he was given the award. The moment he mentioned that he was the painter of the picture, people were left with mouths wide open, in fact he says that even the presence of an explosion could not have caused such reactions. this illustrates the extent to which colored Americans faced discrimination even to what was rightfully theirs. Edward’s Newspaper painting is a clear illustration of the life of an ordinary African American boy in real life at those times. The situation Edward was put into makes one feel to be part of the history and the wish to change the unfair situation to make it easier for all individuals to get what they deserve rightfully without considering race or religion they are affiliated to. If found in a similar situation, I feel I will be obliged to fight for what is rightfully mine and advocate for the same to others too. The event must have affected Edward and obviously start reflecting the same on his works of art because the art is just s reflection of the world.
Edmonia Lewis was in the northern part of US which was free for colored people. Her mother was an Ojibway, Native American and the father was an African American. Unfortunately her parents died when she was young and stayed with her mother’s people under her aunt’s care. She learnt traditional artwork like bead making from the Native Americans that she lived with. The works of art done by Natives was referred to as Indian even if it was up to standard. it was obviously rated as Indian. Lewis was enrolled in the Oberlin College in Ohio under the sponsorship of her brother since it was the only one that admitted students without considering their racial background. Unfortunately, Lewis was involved in a scandal where she was accused of poisoning her two white roommates although it was a mere joke by those who were not tolerant to the college for its nonracial policies. By the help of John Mercer Langton, a graduate of Oberlin and a mixture of an African American and Native American, she won the case. Although she succeeded with the case, she was later beaten by white vigilantes and left her in the snow. After recovering from the beatings, she was again accused of stealing art materials and she was suspended from the institution. She moved to Boston and concentrated on neoclassical sculptures with ancient subjects like the sculpture of Hagar known as Hagar in the wilderness in 1868. This showed biblical illusion because Hagar is a maid of Abraham and Sarah in the Bible. The ordeal that Lewis goes through is really touching and humiliating as a result of racism, it’s really tedious and Lewis must have been very strong to face this challenges. Like any other individual, stomaching all the injustices must be really demanding, I could have tried to resist any possible injustice and unfairness through the available means. The injustices that Lewis goes through influence her career and the types of artworks that she does. Her work of Hagar in the Wilderness can be used to show her unjustified banishment from the college because Hagar was sent away although she had not done any mistake. Forever free is another sculpture done by Lewis showing a woman and a man in thanks giving to say thanks to President Lincoln for his Emancipation proclamation of the 1863 or to God for saving them. Her last works in the USA before she moved to Italy for greener pastures showed that they depict her past.
Henry Ossawa Tanner was partially in a better state because he was born to a prestigious middle class heritage that was a mixture of native, black and the white Americans, who were free and educated that lived in Pennsylvania in 1859. Henry’s mother was a teacher of the freed slaves who had trained although she was a freed slave from Virginia herself and his father preached in the African Episcopal Church. Tanner came to like painting when he saw a landscape painting in the field although his father wanted him to become a priest. Tanner went to Pennsylvania art academy where he met Thomas Eakins who came up with the style of realism that advocates for accurate details. He also experimented on motion photography where sequences of photos are taken in a pattern. Henry was subjected to racial prejudice while in school because could not be allowed to attend class unless the whole class was asked and accepted simply because he was the only black student. He was once beaten up by other students and tied to his easel as a form of crucification in relation to him being religious like his father. Tanner dropped out of the school and headed to France where they were tolerant the colored people and he was appreciated as a talented artist regardless of his color. Henry’s experience in the school are unbecoming and evokes pity like in the case of a mock crucification, it makes one feel unwanted and worthless. It’s hard for one to react in a form of revenge because it’s unlawful and quite impossible because its one against the whole school, the best thing is to do the best and perform excellently to show them that even the black student can do better so that they change their attitude. His experiences are depicted in his works, Banjo lesson is used to show an old man teaching a child how to play banjo which is usually found amongst the Africans to show family connections. He shows banjo being played in a more respective way focusing on the message. His other works were religious to be relevant to most Europeans and to show his religious background. they included The Raising of Lazarus, The journey to Egypt and Daniel in the lion’s den.
Patrick Reason’s Frontispiece to the liberty bell in 1839 was an extension of abolitionists’ quest to counter the stereotype brought by Jim Crow the cartoon that depicted Africans as childish and humorous, conclusively as inferior. They are meant for the white to see as revenge to what they are drawing about Africans.
Eastman Johnson’s A ride for liberty: The Fugitive Slaves, it shows a man escaping on the back of a donkey with his wife and a child. It’s related with Joseph and Mary’s escape to Egypt with baby Jesus. Its showing how people were escaping from slavery in the southern states. The S-Scroll by Thomas Day shows nice furniture made by African-Americans that led to considerable financial success. It shows how the oppressed can liberate themselves. Short Gun house are as a result of vernacular house architect that existed among the Caribbean communities. This shows the traditional style from the marginalized community flourishing in the civilized society thus showing that they are not that primitive.
Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt of 1886 shows Christian subjects found in the bible specifically highlighting salvation scenes like Moses liberating the Israelites.
Blue hole, Flood Waters, Little Miami River of 1851 by Robert Scott shows the exact river and the bridge that was being used by the slaves in fleeing to the north. It must have been used to give direction to escaping slaves.
In Thomas Crawford’s The Dying Chief Contemplating the Ruins of Civilization, he is depicting a Native American chief that is dying despite his youthfulness meaning that he is actually defeated.
Lewis shows Natives alive and busy with their chores in The Old Indian Arrow Maker and his Daughter, she uses this to show her past life
The plains warrior who was a horseman’s image was brought by white viewers and it later became the main basis of the stereotyping against the American-Indians. Some of these pictures were used in various commercials. These images are equally used in Hollywood movies without the consent of the Native Americans.
The Indians are stereotypically shown in two forms. as very violent redskin warrior having a tomahawk and ready to attack and this is usually used in sports as mascots. This was evident in the ‘In Whose honor’ documentary, The Washington redskins use the mascot while cheering. this is belittling, demeaning and degrading the culture of the Native Americans. This is also brought about by the mimicking of the Natives by Florida State University, Kansas City Chiefs, University of Illinois and Atlanta Braves. This affects the self-esteem of the people whose culture is being mimicked in a mocking way. [ Vernon Bellecourt]. Some commercials ran showing a sad Indian man crying because he is unable to control environmental destruction brought by pollution, this is brought about as a result of the Indians seen as noble people who are closely knit to nature.
Nowadays the mascots are still used mostly in various teams and Hollywood movies although there are some people who use the various symbols wrongly thinking they are amusing the real owners of the respective culture.
McElroy, Guy. Chapter 3: An Era of Exclusion: Cultural Diversity in 19th-Century American Art: 71-141. Web 27 April 2012. http://facultyfiles.deanza.edu/gems/cadgemoorecatie/03chapter.