Re-Visioning the Legacy of Slavery through the Memorial Landscape in Artis Lane's Sojourner Truth and Alison Saar's Swing Low

Material Information

Re-Visioning the Legacy of Slavery through the Memorial Landscape in Artis Lane's Sojourner Truth and Alison Saar's Swing Low
Hamilton, Elizabeth C
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
1 online resource (75 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Art History
Art and Art History
Committee Chair:
Ross, Elizabeth
Committee Members:
Poynor, Robin E
Tsai, Joyce
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
African American culture ( jstor )
African American studies ( jstor )
African Americans ( jstor )
African art ( jstor )
Emancipation ( jstor )
Narratives ( jstor )
Portraits ( jstor )
Sculpture ( jstor )
Slavery ( jstor )
United States history ( jstor )
Art and Art History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
african -- alison -- american -- art -- artis -- dc -- emancipation -- harlem -- harriet -- hip -- history -- hop -- lane -- libyan -- memorial -- monument -- morrison -- narrative -- neoslave -- railroad -- saar -- sibyl -- slavery -- sojourner -- toni -- truth -- tubman -- underground -- washington -- yoruba
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Art History thesis, M.A.


Recent commemorative sculptures of slaves highlight the United States's changing relationship with the legacy of slavery. Commemorations, such as the Sojourner Truth (2009) by Artis Lane in Washington, D.C. and Swing Low: A Harriet Tubman Memorial (2008) by Alison Saar in Harlem, begin to unravel a history of exclusion and subordination of blacks in nineteenth-century commemorations of slavery, the Civil War, and Emancipation. In Against Race, Paul Gilroy contends, "recognition of past sufferings and their projection in public sites of memory and commemoration provide an important ethical alternative to the pursuit of financial compensation within the juridical and fiscal orders of discrete nation-states." The recent additions to the United States Capitol and Harlem reflect such recognition amid contested debates about reparations to descendants of African American slaves. This study examines how modern commemorations of slavery and Emancipation confound and supplant the ideology of commemorative sculptures produced in the late nineteenth-century. ( en )
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2013.
Adviser: Ross, Elizabeth.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Elizabeth C Hamilton.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Rights Management:
Copyright Hamilton, Elizabeth C. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
890326445 ( OCLC )
LD1780 2013 ( lcc )


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text




2 2013 Elizabeth Carmel Hamilton


3 For my grandmoth er, Ruth Ellen Teasley


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank Dr. Elizabeth Ross for her mentorship and support I woul d also like to thank Jeffrey Bruce for his intellectual encouragement Barbara Wolanin, Curator of the United States Capitol, deserves special recognition for assisting my research, as I examined the archives and sta tuary collection I am indebted to Artis Lane for graciously taking the time for my interview. For their generous moral, financial, and educational support, I want to thank the Florida Education Fund and the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program Finally, I wish to express my appreciation to T.E.H, E.R.H, AND C.T.H because without their love, encouragement, and patience I would have never completed this project.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8 Literature Review ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 9 Origins and New Directions ................................ ................................ .................... 16 2 SWING LOW ................................ ..................... 19 3 SOJOURNER TRUTH BUST ............................... 34 4 WHERE THE CORNER MEETS THE CAPITOL: CONTRAST AND COMPARISON ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 45 Comparison of Sojourner Truth and Swing Low ................................ ..................... 45 Contrast between Swing Low and Sojourner Truth of the Twenty First Century and Emancipation Sculpture of the Nineteenth Century ................................ ...... 51 5 FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE IDEOLOGICAL SHIFT IN SLAVERY AND OF TRANSGRESSING NINETEENTH CENTURY RACIAL DOGMA .................... 55 American Africanisms in the Nineteenth Century Commemorative Landscape of Emancipation and Slavery ................................ ................................ ................... 55 The Oppositional Aesthetic ................................ ................................ ..................... 58 APPENDIX A Epilogue ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 62 B List of Artworks C ited ................................ ................................ .............................. 6 3 Chapter One: Introduction ................................ ................................ ....................... 63 Chapter Two: The Corner ................................ ................................ ....................... 63 Chapter Three: The Capitol ................................ ................................ .................... 64 Ch apter Four: Where the Corner Meets the Capitol ................................ ............... 64 C Discography ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 65 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 66 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 75


6 ABSTRACT OF THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRA DUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLME NT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS RE VISIONING THE LEGACY OF SLAVERY SOJOURNER TRUTH A SWING LOW By Elizabeth Carmel Hamilton August 2013 Chair: Elizabeth Ross Major: Art History Recent commemorative sculpture s changing relationship with the legacy of slavery. Commemorations, such as the Sojourner Truth (2009) by Artis Lane in Washington, D.C. and Swing Low: A Harriet Tubman Memorial (2008) by Alison Saar in Harlem, begin to unravel a history of exclusion and subordination of blacks in nineteenth century commemorations of slavery, the Civil War, and Emancipation. In Against Race Paul Gilroy contends, emory and commemoration provide an important ethical alternative to the pursuit of financial compensation within the juridical and fiscal orders of discrete nation 1 The recent additions to the United States Capitol and Har lem reflect such recognition amid contested debates about reparations to descendants of African American slaves. This study examines how modern commemorations of slavery and Emancipation confound 1 Paul Gilroy, Against Race: Imagining Political Culture Beyond the Color Li ne (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2000), 335.


7 and supplant the ideol ogy of commemorative sculptures produced in the lat e ni neteenth century


8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Contemporary government sponsored commemorations of slavery highlight an evolving relationship between the United States and the historical legacy of slavery Powerful examples of these memorials recognize the contributions of slaves to building the nation, and they employ original modes of representation that engage with the literary genre of the n eo slave narrative Recent commemorations have begun to augment the American public memorial landscape in a nuanced way that reconciles the narrative deficiencies of the past approaches to the public commemoration of slavery, as well as the exclusion of Af rican Americans from the national narrative in Washington, D.C. Several scholars have offered important analyses concerning the commemoration of slavery and its implications on the paradigms of racial identity in American history However, recent additio ns of commemorative sculptures to the United States Capitol and Harlem reflect a shift in those nineteenth century paradigms In Against Race Paul Gilroy suggests that we need self consciously to become more future oriented We need to look toward the future and to find political languages in which it can be discussed There is absolutely no question of choosing now to try and forget what it took so long to remember, or of simply setting the past and its traumas aside The recognition of past sufferings and their projection in public sites of memory and commemoration provide an important ethical alternative to the pursuit of financial compensation within the juridical and fiscal orders of discrete nation states. 1 Recent commemorations destabilize the Am erican memory of slavery, as artists presented it immediately following the Civil War, and they create a constructive 1 Paul Gilroy, Against Race: Imagining Political Culture Beyond the Color Line (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2000), 335.


9 language for a vexed history They also expose a contrasting dialogue between commemorative sculptures produced in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and contemporary sculptures concerning Emancipation and slavery Recent commemorations confound and supplant the sculptural monuments produced in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries In my study, I will examine how contempora ry commemorations of slavery confront the artistic, historical, and racial contradictions that scholars have identified in earlier research; thus this study provides a timely investigation of specific transformations regarding slavery in the American memor ial landscape of the twenty first century. Literature Review In 1916, Henry Morris Murray wrote Emancipation and the Freed in American Sculpture: A Study in Interpretation which is a thorough analytical account of sculpture concerning the theme of Emanci pation and its social implications on the image of blacks commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. 2 As a freedman, Murray vested his research in understanding the social consequences of the ways in which public art and sculpture represented blacks in the narrative of slavery He 3 Like his colleague W.E.B. DuBois, Murray was a p roponent of art that could advance the political agenda 2 Freeman Henry Morris Murray, forward to Emancipation and the Freed in American Sculpture: A Study in Interpretation (1916; repr., Freeport, New York: Books f or Libraries Press, 1972), xvii. Steve Nelson, Race, Representation, and the Beginnings of an Ar t History and Its Institutions: Foundations of a Discipline ed. Elizabeth Mansfield (London: Routledge, 2002), 283 294. 3 Murray, xviii xix.


10 of African Americans. 4 Emancipation and the Freed was racial uplift through the arts that co uld influence political change and inspire discourse about works that contradicte d those aims His interpretations exposed the systems of bodily representation in the early twentieth century memorial landscape that visually reinforced the social subordination of blacks to whites In Forever Free (1867), for instance, Murray contends that Edmonia Lewis depiction of a recently freed man and woman demonstrates their ten uous relationship with Emancipation, because they still wear chains The woman kneels and the hand of her male counterpart rests on her shoulder The male other hand, though raised triumphantly, is chained Both of gazes extend upward toward an unspecified source in gratitude and supplication. The pose also denoted a liminal position between bondage and free dom broken shackles, no obvious parchments, no discarded whips, no crouching slave with uncertain face 5 He contends that the most ef fective and uplifting way of representing Emancipation was through an allegory that could capture the intense emotions of the tumultuous era. Freedom which stands atop the Freedo m is an allegorical construction of freedom, Murray felt that it embodied a certain irony in that it avoids the issues of enslaved blacks in the United States. Of the exclusionary metaphor of Freedom Murray notes that Jefferson 4 Crisis 32 (October 1926): 290 297. 5 Emancipation (Boston; 1913) as the ideal representation of the event. The bronze, multi figured sculpture depicts two blac k, adolescent youths in loincloths stepping away from an ominous looking tree. A weeping woman kneels beside them, covers her face, and pushes them forward. The unclothed youths represent a brave, new beginning in the face of adversity and possible danger; the woman represents grieving, apprehensive humanity (51 66).


11 Davis lobbied successfully for the exclusion of the liberty cap, which originated from an Ancient Roman Phrygian cap for manumitted slaves. 6 Davis reasoned that Americans had always been free, so the liberty cap was an inappropriate symbol. He obviously excluded blacks from his definition of American citizens. T he blatant omission of the its sculpture about freedom was as sardonic a representation as the submissively kneeling slaves. Both represent ed a mockery of African American citizenship. Vivien Green Fryd undertook similar analyses in 1992 in her book Art and Empire: The Politics of Ethnicity in the United States Capitol, 1815 1860 ses the efforts of nineteenth century proponents of slavery, within congressional committees, to omit overt and covert references to race Their efforts underscored the irony of the pervading themes and allegories of politically sacred spaces in the nineteenth century Like Murray, she identifies Freedom as a representation of the tensions of slavery She elaborates her argument further than Murray's argument, noting the particular rift between Southern and Northern factions to ensure that references to slavery would not jeopardize unity within the governing bodies Thomas Crawford, with input from Jefferson Davis, initially named the sculpture A rmed Liberty Fryd notes that it was not until 1991 that the Capitol curator began to refer to it by its current name which is Freedom 7 Although Crawford received the 6 Ibid, 4. 7 Vivien Green Fryd, Art & Empire: The Politics of Ethnicity in the United States Capitol 1815 1860 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 193.


12 commissioned for Freedom Davis se t the criteria for the symbols that could represent the concept o f freedom in the United States The heavily draped female figure stands sword, while the other holds a shield and a laurel wreath To situate the symbolism within the fr amework of the national identity, the shield has stars and stripes reminiscent of the American flag T he initials U.S.A on h e r breastplate further identify her as a symbol of the United States, rather than her a reference to her Greco Roman origins, with Furthermore, the feathered helmet recalls a Native American headdress that commonly served as a symbol of a female allegory of America. Before he completed Freedom Crawford altered his original conception of the vision. 8 The most notable alteration was for Liberty In the tradition of the ancient Romans, Crawford used a female allegory to represent a social ideal However, the ancients were concerned with the goddess Libertas as a symbol of personal freedom; during the Roman Empire, Libertas was the embodiment of freedom in a constitutional government The symbols of Libertas the cap, pole, broken yoke, and flying bird were impo rtant appropriations for later European insurrections against tyranny. 9 The symbols eventually became crucial to defining the United States and its successful Revolution against British rule However, t he triumphant symbols associated with Libertas during the Revolut ionary period of the 8 Ibid, 193. 9 Jean Fagan Yellin American Quarterly 38.5 (Winter 1986): 806. American Art Journal 18.2 (Spring 1986): 58.


13 eighteenth century became polarizing symbols for a fragile American government on the cusp of the Civil War in the nineteenth century Abolitionists eventually appropriated the symbolism associated with Libertas to support their cause of ending slavery in the United States Therefore, Jefferson Davis, the Chairman of the Capitol Building Program and future president of the Confederacy became concerned that the once unifying and unambiguous interpretation of Libertas would become confused with th e growing abolitionist movement and thereby undermine the narrative of Liberty within the Capitol. made him particularly sensitive to and personally invested in the growing tensions surrounding issues of slav ery Davis was adamant about his position s because he did not believe that blacks were citizens, nor did he believe that they should they benefit from the freedoms of the Constitution. 10 The amalgamated symbolism in Armed Liberty represented a conditional American liberty only available to those with the appropriate skin color in the nineteenth century Her combative props, inspired by images of the goddess Minerva, contradict traditional representations of liberty Armed Liberty was the defender of the an tebellum tel status of African Americans while touting conflicting ideals of a just society. visual conventions of slavery and Emancipation during the nineteenth century Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves is a seminal text about American commemorative sculpture In the book, he examined the effects of race on the medium of sculpture, as well as the implications of ra ce on the prevailing neoclassical style of the period According to 10 Fryd, 193.


14 Savage, representing slavery, Emancipation, and freedom in the nineteenth century defied the neoclassical ideals that were inherent to a prized American art form The tendency of nineteent h century American neo classical artists was to adhere to idealized conventions of ancient Greek sculpture Savage discussed the iconography associated with representations of African Americans in the nineteenth century in contrast to Greek ideals of neo c lassicism He maintained that audiences and artists deemed African Americans as the antithesis of the Greek aesthetic and ideological ideal because of their physiognomy Additionally, the physical idealization that is inherent in classical sculpture confli cted with the physically enslaved black body, thus dually exposing the false idealization of American freedom and neo classical art. As a result, artists commissioned to create monuments about Emancipation often shunned images of African Americans Hence, the theme of freedom in reference to race was difficult to represent in the nineteenth century Savage notes that Abraham Lincoln and white Union soldiers of the Civil War became the face of Emancipation in sculptural monuments, rather than the slaves them selves The concept and practice of freedom for newly freed black citizens was a tenuous subject and Reconstruction only underscored the complications of integrating blacks into mainstream American history and culture Former slaves and free blacks faced challenges that reinscribed the status of chattel upon them To make a desirable memorial with an ideologically unambiguous collective history for America, artists seemed obligated to shun and marginalize blackness Consequently, the theme of Emancipation in sculpture yielded a visual formula that Savage alludes to in the title of his book, Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves


15 S avage traced the source of the of the kneeling slave iconography to a late eighteenth century medallion that Englishman Josiah We dgewood created to support the abolitionist cause Abolitionists in the United States eventually adopted the format of the kneeling slave for their cause as well. The image appeared in books, pamphlets, and on coins. The iconography of the kneeling slave became so popular that after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, artists continued to ap propriate the image as an emblem for Emancipation. Emancipation Group (1867) is one of the most prominent examples of this visual formula The composition reinforces social subordination through the braham Lincoln is standing over him with an outstretched arm limited clothing further separate the two figures socially Clothing indicates social status and position The juxtaposition The emphasis that Ball places upon the black body underscores the dogmatic beliefs that the black body was only useful for labor Meanwhile, the documents on the pillar, emphasizes his assumed social and intellectual superiority uncertain facial expression, connotes the continued exploitation of the black body for labor, while the Emancipator will continue to be at the core of social progress


16 When Fryd wrote Art and Empire one sculptural representation of an African American inhabited the Capitol, and the decoration reflected the assiduous efforts of Civil War era statesmen to censor issues of race and slavery 11 The addition of Artis ancipation Hall implies a further shift study maintains that artists in the nineteenth century had intrinsic conceptual limitations upon their methods of portraying African Americans in sculptures about Emancipation, slavery, and the Civil War Swing Low (2008) challenged those limited methods by providing a more diverse visual narrative of slaves and defying earlier representations of them as subordinate and passive characters with no agency in their own freedom Recent works by Lane, Saar, and others upset the monolithic nineteenth Origins and New Directions Contemporary a rtists use modes of expression that creatively augment master n arratives and mainstream historical accounts of slavery. methods operate on the same level as the literary form, neo slave narrative methods expound more on the lives and experiences of blacks, rather than on the na rrative of a liberator The literary genre of neo slave narrative uses collected oral about slavery from a viewpoint of the slaves. 12 The genre derives from ante bellu m 11 A bronze bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. by John Wilson was added to the Rotunda in 1985. 12 The Cambridge Companion to the African American Slave Narrative ed. Audrey Fisch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 170 ; scholars acknowledge Jubilee (1966) as the first among the burgeoning genre of neo slave narratives.


17 texts that escaped slaves wrote to support the abolitionist cause They reported the injustice and dehumanization of being a slave to agitate their audiences to action Since free blacks wrote these slave narratives for a public audience, they often negl ected personal points of view Moreover, since most slaves were necessarily illiterate, they told their stories to an author who then wrote the narrative Nineteenth century slave narratives are essentially fictive constructions of facts and personal recol lections. When writing Beloved Toni Morrison was concerned with the interior lives of those held in bondage, citing the likelihood of nineteenth century authors to suppress the feelings and experiences of slavery. 13 lucidates the places at which authors stopped short in their descriptions of slavery, leaving aside any gruesome details that would offend a skittish audience She considers the recovery of those rejected portions of the slave narratives an integral piece of her artistic project. to reconstruct the world that these 14 Her starting point is in slave narratives and archival data She imagination Visual artists, such as Betye Saar an d Kara Walker, known for their controversial art dealing with slave and plantation life utilize similar strategies They take existing text and images concerning slavery ; then they imbue it with their own commentary about the conditions of slavery. 13 Toni Morrison, "The Site of Memory." in Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures ed. by Marcia Tucker (New York and Camb ridge, Massachusetts: New Museum of Contemporary Art and MIT Press, 1990), 302. 14 Ibid, 302.


18 Neo slave narrative surpasses biographies or collected oral histories by reconstructing a fuller point of view that combines the traditional narrative data with cultural and archival data, and thereby renders the texts rich with cultural and religious historie s that often reflect values of survival and kinship The process involved in neo slave narrative, that is the collection and combination of fragmented slave histories by contemporary authors to create a compelling narrative of the slave experience, informs the practices of many visual artists who deal with slavery as their subject matter By adopting such strategies, artists create a dialogue about visualizing a period for which very few images exist Consequently, they call the dominant historical narrativ es and legacies of slavery into question, and expose a visual medium for conveying the black experience in the nineteenth century. I will begin my discussion with Swing Low: A Harriet Tubman Memorial (2008) in Harlem by Alison Saar Swing Low uses inven tive ways of representing slavery in a visual language meant to mobilize the community in which it stands I will then assess the portrait bust of Sojourner Truth in the United States Capitol by Artis Lane Recently installed in the newly named Emancipatio n Hall, the portrait bust was the first image of a woman of African descent in the Capitol, and the culmination of a lengthy legislative process and political battle After discussing the contemporary examples of sculptural commemorations of slavery and Em ancipation, I will compare them to their nineteenth century counterparts This research will focus on specific changes in the narrative of slavery and Emancipation over the past centuries.


19 CHAPTER 2 THE CORNER: ALISON S SWING LOW Contemporary memorials of slavery provide an important voice for those Americans held as chattel in the nineteenth century. Anti Reconstruction propaganda and anxiety about post Civil War reconciliation are less likely to tinge commemorative sculpture in the twenty first century. Recent memorials augment the central history that was set forth in the nineteenth century memorial landscape of slavery. The difference between the works of Walker and the elder Saar versus Lane and the younger Saar is their pla cement within the public view. Swing Low and the Sojourner Truth Bust were specifically commissioned, created, and displayed for a public that reaches beyond the gallery and the museum. Consequently, the memorials have the opportunity to reach a larger a udience to more broadly and publicly alter the hegemonic discourse of slavery. Installed in 2008, the bronze sculpture Swing Low stands at the intersection of St. Nicholas Avenue, West 122 nd Street, and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, New York. Swing Low stakes a claim within the Harlem community with its impressive scale. A monumental nine foot tall female figure of patinaed bronze stands atop a pedestal and a roughly hewn natural stone base. The pedestal is not just a functional part of the overall composition but also an integral part of the memorial. Etched with the refrain of deeds and personal biography. Together the statue, its pedestal, and t he stone base t hat supports them both are thirteen feet high and twenty one feet long A satchel hangs from a strap over her shoulder, crosses her body, and rests upon her hip. Her arms bend at her waist near her satchel. The figure wears a jacket and a floor length s kirt. The bottom front of her skirt gives way to a series of vertical lines that resemble a


20 train's cattle pusher. Human faces and footprints, as well as various trinkets, such as keys, locks, and bottles intersperse the skirt in low relief. Despite the embellishments distributed over the skirt, Tubman's legs are still visible and appear to be in motion, the base of the statue. Throughout her body of work, Alison Sa ar (1956 ) has imbued her art and the space it inhabits with sacred and spiritual meanings, and Swing Low is only a continuation of that practice. Saar spent her formative years in Laurel Canyon, California, a rural suburb of Los Angeles. Both of Saar and philosophies. An integral part of her process involves rescuing jettisoned objects and building materials that she finds in abandoned buildings. Saar favors old materials because their history and wisdom, as she calls it, imbues her resulting sculptures with greater depth of in appearance and meaning. 1 Her affinity for recognizing and restoring found materials is a result of working with her father Richard Saar, who is an art conservato ccomplished artist, who exposed her daughter to several religions and cultures. She received her formal education from Scripps College in Claremont, California, studying African diasporic art with the prominent artist and art historian Samella Lewis, who later secured a fellowship for Saar to travel to the Southeastern United States to research African American folk artists. The experience provided Saar with a greater understanding of folk culture in the South. She appli ed that expanded understanding to her own artistic practice as she worked toward her Master of Fine Art s which she 1 Tangible Spirits with Alison Saar: A Portrait of the Artist VHS, directed by Ruth Twiggs and Bruce Berryhill (Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1996) : n.p


21 earned from Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1981. Two years after she graduated, Saar she began a residency with The Studio Museum in Harlem. On the East coast, Saar developed an aesthetic and narrative sensibility that earned her a commission with the city of New York in 1991. The Metropolitan create a sculpture for the train platform of the Harlem line. The project, Hear the Lone Whistle Moan consists of three bronze grilles with sculptural reliefs. In each grille, Saar narrates individual and collective histories of African Americans using the metaphor of th e train to elicit multiple meanings. In one panel, a man with a downcast gaze stands holding a suitcase. The background of the grille contains a cross, a rooster, a comb, and a dog in the flourishing, curvilinear pattern of the grille. These elements na rrate the story of a man departing the city. According to Saar, he had once come to New York for the financial opportunity, but now he desires to return to his roots in the South. Saar firmly situates the iconography of the objects in the grille in Afric an belief systems from Western and Central Africa. 2 The cross represents the Central African Congolese Cosmogram: birth, life, death, and rebirth and are indicative of railroad crossings. 3 Robert Farris Thompson explains the importance of the Cosmogram i n Congolese cosmology and its circular representation of time. The man has reached a literal crossroads or a major place of transition in his life. He was born in the South and then migrated to New York where he matured. T he narra tive depicted in the scu lpture references his return to the 2 Tangible Spirits, n.p 3 Flash of the Spirit (New York: Vintage Books, 1984), 101 160.


22 South at the end of his life. The chicken, according to Thompson, is an offering t hat is customary and necessary to ensure that his decision will bring him good fortune. Additionally the cross has symbolic ties to Chri stianity, especially when called Negro spirituals throughout the memorial. The spirituals emerged as an important facet of the enslaved African Americans in the r the return of those transition from an urban environment to a rural one. The male figur e also recalls the Yoruba Eshu, who is the West African deity in charge of major decisions and crossroads, again indicated by the cross. The comb and the dog are items also associated with or offered to Eshu. In Yoruba cosmology, Eshu is a homeless because of his domain is the outdoors As a result, he occupies public place s, such as train platforms or marketplaces, rather than domestic environments. 4 He is also the who regulates communication between the mortal and spirit worlds. His role as a messenger often resul ts in chaos and confusion, because of the inherent difficulties of relating messages between two parties. Semantics, intonation, and a host of other factors can alter the understanding for the intended recipient of the message. Like Eshu, Tubman is a mes senger a conduit for slaves to access freedom in the North. Eshu is the spirit of the crossroads in much the approach to manufacturing the memory is astutely syncretic as she combines multiple perspectives and cosmologies to commemorate Tubman. 4 Gary Edwards and John Mason, Black Gods: Ori a Studies in the New World (Brookly n, New York: Yoruba Theological Archministry, 1998), 11 20.


23 Trains and crossings hold important literal and symbolic meanings in African American culture. 5 Trains facilitated post World War II migratory patterns of Southern blacks towa rds economic opportunity and (questionably) more equitable social conditions in comparison to the South. Northern migration provided the possibility of fortune for hopeful blacks traveling from Southern states. Furthermore, the train represents the Under ground Railroad a covert logistical system of people, buildings, and pathways that aided runaway slaves. The conductor in one of the three grilles in the installation is not only literal, but also representative of the conductors on the Underground Railro ad. Trains symbolize freedom and the transgression of once prohibited movement during slavery. The train is a testimony to the black body no longer held captive through the brutal slave system. The title, Hear the Lone Whistle Moan operates on a symbol ic level in that t he moan in the title evokes the sound of the night and th 6 Swing Low within a place that creates an ideological place connected to history, memory and emotion. 7 At the crossroads of St. Nicholas Avenue, West 122nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, the memorial provides an anachronistic narrative that exemplifies birth, life, death, and rebirth. The Harlem intersection where Swing Low stands was an abandoned traffic triangle before the ci ty re designated the space, 5 Tangible Spirits n.p. 6 Keep Your Head to the Sky in Zable, 39, 121 7 Tangible Spirits n.p.


24 likeness in bronze. 8 Because of where the memorial is situated, it shares the fundamental concepts of the Kongo Cosmogram, similarly to the cross and crossing in Hear the Lone Whistle Moan 9 The cosmological underpinning of the Cosmogram, as life, death, and rebi rth through her abounding legacy Saar deploys an i mportant memorial. The placement of the memorial at a literal crossroads affirms the presence of ideological and theological crossings and passages. The memorial circular time st ructure commemorative presence as an ancestor and guide in Harlem. In the context of the Cosmogram, Tubman is in the rebirth phase of her journey she is dead only in a physical sense. Her existence in the spirit world situates her as an ancestor. Who Set You Flowin ? : The African American Migration Narrative enlightenment, sustenance 10 She extracts her theory from Toni characters are benevolent, instructive, and protective, and they provide a certain kind of 8 Milton C. Sernett, Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, and History (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2007), 358. 9 Jeffrey Bruce, Director of Exhibitions (Tubman African American Museum, Macon, Georgia), conversation with the author, June 29, 2010. 10 Griffin, 5 6.


25 11 In Swing Low, framework for Swing Low generations and inspire a new era of citizens to take up her mantle of service, heroism, and humanitarianism. The surr ounding landscape design also reflects life cycles. Saar added foliage and rocks to surround the memorial, purposefully choosing landscape materials to reflect the spaces to which Tubman traveled and in which she lived as she moved through her life cycle. Tubman was born in Maryland, and she spent the latter part of her life in New York. With the landscape, which Quennell Rothschild and Partners, LLP co designed, Saar acknowledges the multiple locations within the American landscape that served as settin a conductor on the Underground Railroad. The plants create a wooded area within an urban neighborhood. Tubman never actually lived in Harlem, but the process of symbolic accretion legitimi zes Swing Low 12 I contend that Harlem is a memorial within itself. In his ethnography, Harlemworld James Jackson, Jr. argues that Harlem functions as the embodiment of African American site of culture and history. African American culture. From his ethnographic fieldwork, Jackson was able to 11 cestor in Afro Black Writers at Work: A critical Evaluation ed. Mari Evans (Garden City, New York: Anchor Press, 1984), 343. 12 Social & Cultural Geography 5, no. 3 (September 200 4): 419 35.


26 concl 13 In addition, the Harlem Renaissance and its influx of cultural production from jazz musicians, writers, poets, intellectuals, and artists represented the highest African American achievements. As a site of an early twentieth century Renaissance in African cultural moment. The historical refere nces make Harlem sacred to its current 14 By appending a well known slave history to the site, vi ewers can access various facets of African American history and thereby align the community with the goals of the memorial. Symbolic accretion speaks to the power of Swing Low in creating a sacred and contemplative site on a Harlem intersection. The cor ner, crossing, intersection of Swing Low has further symbolic implications that emerge in hip hop music. Common and The Last Poets, a group that originated during the Black Arts Movement, convey the hallowedness of the urban corner as a site of black cult corner as a cultural crossroads between the present and an ancestral legacy. for the legacy and possibilities of the corner that the Last Poets tout: The corner was our magic, our music, our politics Fires raised as tribal dancers and 13 Jackson, 9. 14 Ibid, 9.


27 war cries that broke out on different corners The corner was our Rock of Gibraltar, our Stonehenge Our Taj Mahal, our monument, Our testimonial to freedom, to peace and to love Down on the corner... 15 American communicative traditions and discursive practices to convey the Black nd hip hop represent instances in which social issues manifest in African American cultural production. All three genres function as counter blues are not simply mechanistic re sponses to oppression; they are conscious recodifications of African American knowledge systems, soundscapes, (and) called Negro Spirituals, the blues, and hip hop provide a fascinating cultural crossroads in which artists demonstrate th e circularity and perpetuity of several aspects of the African American social, economic, and political condition in the United States. The Blues Aesthetic, as describe d by Richard Powell, provides strong links Swing Low and el ucidates their social significance. Powell describes the Blues Aesthetic as contemporary art that comes from artists who empathize with the issues and ideals of African American society and culture. In 15 Be performed by Common and others, MP4, 2005.


28 addition, the art exists within the intellectual rea ch and conceptual understanding of the African American community in its entirety with a humanistic perspective. 16 In name, formal qualities, and symbolisms, Swing Low represents the Blues Aesthetic. The so called Negro spiritual that Saar uses to name t he memorial served as a subversive and covert language against slavery in the nineteenth century, according to Tubman biographer Sarah Bradford. The powerful language and intonations that are characteristic of spirituals left an auditory legacy in blues m usic. The blues music was the soundtrack to the struggles of African Americans in era immediately following slavery. Blues crooners used song as a medium through which they vented their frustrations concerning the American social and economic order. In the twenty first century, Swing Low called Ne gro Spirituals, and its descenda nt, hip hop. Moreover, their dialogue about the transcendent meaning of place creates a cultural understanding of the corner as a cultural site in need of reclamation and revival. Swing Low location in which viewers can reconcile African American history and culture and co ntemplate future trajectories. The elements of the formal composition also reflect Swing Low profound insight to understanding the memorial. The nine foot tall, full length figure leans forward creating a diagonal axis with the base of the sculpture. The diagonal emphasis produces a momentum, which visually unearths the roots behind her. In eff ect, Tubman uproots the oppression as she navigates the space between freedom and bondage as a 16 Powell, 21 23.


29 conductor of the Underground Railroad. Saar uses roots in several of her sculptures of the human form. The tree roots emerge from her figures like mutant appen dages, organically uniting them with the earth. In Sweet Magnolia (1994), the tree roots represent transition from dark to light or from North to South. 17 The portion of the sculpture underground rises, and gives way to the figure above ground which is a lso a metaphorical representation of familial roots, lineages, and cultural histories In Swing Low skirt, coupled with the visually compelling forward momentum, signify her role in uprooting slavery and transitioning to freedom. 18 Additionally, the element on the front of her skirt resembling a cow pusher is present to push aside any barriers to her efforts. 19 Saar contends that in Swing Low Tubman is not only a conductor i n the Underground Railroad, but the actual vehicle. 20 caught in a moment of action re emphasizes the theme of movement. The active stance, along with the cattle pusher in her skirt, evokes similar metaphors about mobility a nd crossroads as those present in Hear the Lone Whistle Moan Saar further underscores the personification of Tubman as a train with the naming of the memorial. 17 Susan Krane, Art at the Edge, Alison Saar: Fertile Ground (Atlanta, Georgia: High Museum of Art, 1993), 10. 18 bellum vantage point. Blacks d emographics and history during the Great Migration. 19 Derek Koen (2008), Spirit of Harriet Tubman [Video] retrieved April 22, 2009, from of harriet tubman.htm n.p. 20 Ibid, n.p.


30 secr et call for slaves attempting to escape slavery. When slaves heard the song, they understood that they would meet at a predetermined location to escape. The chorus, fait h that someone (the chariot) would arrive and take them to a place where they would be free. 21 I n the journey, summoning slaves and notifying workers on the Underground Railroad of itinerant passengers: Oh go down, Moses, Way down into Egypt's land, Tell old Phara oh, Let my people go. Oh Pharaoh said he would go cross, Let my people go, And don't get lost in de [sic] wilderness, Let my people go. Oh go down, Moses, Way down into Egypt's land, Tell old Pharaoh, Let my people go. You may hinder me here, but yo u can't up dere [sic], Let my people go, He sits in de Hebben [sic] and answers prayer, Let my people go! Oh go down, Moses, Way down into Egypt's land, 21 Ibid, n.p.


31 Tell old Pharaoh, Let my people go. 22 reinforces her alias, which was Moses. Her role as a guide to fugitive slaves aligned bondage. Metaphorically, Tubman is Moses, the African American slav es are the Israelites, and Northern States and Canada represent the Promised Land. Saar invokes references to Biblical history and spirituals to create meaning for a contemporary audience. These elements also achieve a theme of mobility, bravery, self de termination, and persistence that does not end with the Emancipation Proclamation, but continues in the present day. In Swing Low Tubman is the vehicle for change and social mobility, but Saar does not abandon the story of the slaves that Tubman guide d to freedom. With bas relief faces in the skirt, she creates a visual narrative that represents those whose names elude written historical accounts. In addition to faces, the memorial incorporates items that represent signs of an arduous journey, like t he prints of worn shoes, as well as things left behind, like broken chains. Moreover, the faces represent slaves who endured slavery and never escaped but died in slavery or waited for emancipation. In Kara Keeling asserts that blacks sense contains not only an account of black rebellions and resistance to slavery but consenting to aspects of their 22 Sarah H. Bradford, Har riet Tubman, the Moses of Her People (Ne w York: Lockwood and Son, 1886), (accessed April 29, 2009) 37 38.


32 23 Saar does not insist on obliterating that aspect of common sense in order to represent a monolithic story about overcoming slavery and oppression that promotes one central hero. of unnamed slaves honor those who survived sl avery by living through it. Swing Low acknowledges the importance of both strategic reactions to slavery. That is, the unidentified faces in the skirt are symbolically as important as the face on the central f igure in the memorial. Swing Low fulfills the typical mode of memorial that stipulates the inclusion of figural sculpture. However, Saar constructs the figure in a way that acknowledges the unknown the subaltern voices that history never chronicled in books. is necessary in an African American memorial, essentially because of the prohibition of literacy and the purposeful severing of family ties that black s endured during slavery. Under such conditions, th e memorial must function like a recovery project through archives such as cargo records of slave ships and property records of slaveholders. African American people did not exist, only chattel As a result, the known and codified figures in African American history come to fore as synecdochal constructions that necessarily stand in for masses of African reconcile the complications of memorializing a singular hero versus a group. Through her own representations and displays of African American cultural artifacts throughout Swing Low narrative in response to nineteenth century memorials about slave ry and their failure to display the 23 Kara Keeling, The Witch's Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007), 63.


33 reveal African American survival systems, like religion. Although the faces on the skirt remain anonymous, Saar gives them a voice and o utward displays of agency in the objects and the songs that slaves hid in plain sight during the nineteenth century. Saar did not abandon her central artistic modes in creating a memorial of bronze. Instead of embedding found objects, she scatters ima ges of jettisoned objects over the skirt in bas relief. The objects are examples of things that slaves would have used or Forever Free, the locks and chains in Swing Low are broken, jettisoned, scattered, and rem Saar gathers elements from the surrounding landscape that reflect the geographic passages that Tubman made, providing a setting that transcends the limitations of place through static visual narrative conveyed in typical figural sculpture. Swing Low culture that survived despite slavery and the Middle Passage. The underlying narrative of Swing Low portrays a legacy that the l ocomotive like figure carries into the future. Most significantly, the narrative includes slavery and the transition out of it. Saar does not memorialize the black body into perpetual servitude. Instead Saar depicts he pushes forward using the history of slavery as a symbol of perseverance through hardship, which serves as a useful metaphor for a Harlem neighborhood in the process of revitalization.


34 CHAPTER 3 THE CAPITOL: ARTIS L SOJOURNER TRUTH BUST Imb uing another sacred place in the American landscape with a nuanced legacy of slavery is a portrait bust of Sojourner Truth in the United States Capitol, by Artis Lane 1 The Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama among other dignitaries unveiled Sojourner Truth with a tremendous ceremony at the Capitol The portrait bust is the first sculpture of an African American woman to inhabit the Capitol and its inception was fraught with debates ab out how and where Americans should remember the suffragist and abolitionist. 2 While a slave history seems to meet the urban crossroads without much contestation, a Swing Low used the history of useful metaphor for a current community. However, the history of slavery within the Capitol, a politically sacred place, crea ted potential contradictions between the Uni ted While there are no mandate s on racial rep resentation in the Capitol, history reflects the efforts of nineteenth century statesmen to exclude themes of slavery in its art collection, because of how it could taint the perception of America as a bastion of 1 I would like to thank Dr. Barbara Wolanin, curator of the Capitol, for graciously allowing me access to the archives related to Sojourner Truth. The only other sculpture of an African American in the Capitol is a bronze bust by John Wilson of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1985) in the Rotunda. Congress recently commissioned a sculpture of Rosa Parks for the Capitol. 2 The deb ate began with the placement of Portrait Monument (1920), by Adelaide Joh nson into the Capitol Rotunda in 1996. The marble sculpture, which bears the likenesses of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony, acknowledges the suffragist cause and the eventual pass ing of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave whit e women the right to vote. Members of the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW), led by C. Dolores Tucker, took umbrage at the exclusion of Sojourner Truth. Subsequently, legislation passed to include a sculpture of Truth in the Capitol, which was funded by the NCBW.


35 liberty and justice As discussed earlier, Freedom serves as a prime example However, Sojourner Truth and Freedom are important counterparts within the Ca pito l; the former represents the past and the latter representing the future and a trajectory of historical inclusion The bust portrait of Sojourner Truth is over life size in scale and made of black patina bronze The surface is smooth and polished, disp laying fine details and attention to various textures, such as hair, knit ted fabrics, and skin carte de visite, or calling cards, as the inspiration for her deft depiction She idealizes sat fo r her carte de visite portraits late in her life, after slavery and inhumane living conditions had ravaged her tall and slender frame As a result, Lane garnered inspiration from the svelte physique of tenni s star Venus Williams Lane imagined th at Truth and proportio ns before an arthritic condition caused her to rely on canes to support her frame 3 In the sculpture, Truth stares straight ahead with a gaze that interacts with and engages the audience The bonnet on her head i s characteristic of the period, and it Lane commits a sensitive rendering of cheekbones, and the arc of her nostrils expression bears a Mona Lisa (Leonardo, c. 1603 1605) like ambiguity While the corners or her mouth turn up ward, Truth does not wear a grin but a peaceful and dignified expression face leads into a long neck, which the mock neck collar of her blouse partially obscures 3 Artis Lane, interview by author, telephone conversation, October 20, 2009. I would also like to thank Ms. Artis Lane for providing me with great insight into her artistic vision for Sojourner Truth


36 fringed shawl, which Truth wears in several of her carte de visite portraits T he bust ends under the bosom, with a tapered waist Althou gh Lane took creative liberties when sculpting with the portrait bust, she essentially remained faithful to the images Truth orchestrated Truth had a self conscious awareness of how others manipulated her image for monetary gain Therefore, s he began to commission small carte de visite portraits that would visually situate her as a middle class matron in the eyes of her audience Using elegant clothing, hairstyles, backgrounds and props, such as books and knitting needles, she was able to ach ieve her goal. 4 The carte de visite portraits were a direct 1896), author of the famous anti slavery tome Stowe wrote the article as a way to buttress the extrava gant lifestyle that she afforded with the commercial success of her earlier novel. 5 as a Southern dialect was Du tch The New York native learned English later, but never rid herself of the Dutch accent. 6 However, Stowe was trying to appeal to a popular audience who could readily s speech and deportment contradicte d the stereotype that Stowe wished to exploit. 4 The Journal of American History 81, no.2 (September 1994): 461 492. Richard J. Powell. Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008, 46 49. 5 Harriet Beeche Atlantic Monthly 11 (April 1863): 473 481, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (New York; London: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996), 151 163. Painter, "Representing Truth 92. 6 Painter, 7.


37 red an allegorical sculpture by expatriate artist William Wetmore Story (1819 1895) Truth worked in his mind and led him into the deeper recesses of the African nature, those unexplored depths of being and feeling, mighty and dark as the gigantic depths of tropical forests, mysterious as the hidden rivers and mines of that burning continent whose life 7 Lib yan Sibyl (1860 1868) depicts a Neo classically rendered seated female figure draped with a cloth on the lower half of her body; the upper half remains uncovered, which exposes her breasts. Although the physical attributes of the sculpture belie the conju red African allegory and its association with Truth, the name Libya became an allegory for all of Africa and its descendants The sculpture and article assigned features to Truth that would align with the prevailing colonial nineteenth century discourse o f Africa as an exotic, untamed, and sexualized place Ironical Libyan Sibyl 8 However, their hopes never materialized and nearly one hundred fifty years later imaging now occupies the Capitol. Libyan Sibyl was a flattering and complementary point of view for Story and Stowe. They occupied a specific social class in which they would appreciate such a neoclassical representation To be sure, the body of the Libyan Sibyl is an elegant and beautiful rendering of an allegorical body. In contrast to other nineteenth century sculptures that referenced slavery, the Libyan Sibyl is unique in that the body the figure does not kneel, bu t it reclines. The body is not laboring but resting in contemplation. 7 Stowe, 480 481. 8 Ibid, 481.


38 She does not wear shackles or chains as restraints. The only chains on her body hold an adornment the Star of David. Neoclassicism prevailed among audiences in the nineteenth cent ury United States. Sculptures like the Libyan Sibyl were often laudatory allegorical associations to contemporary subjects, which honored the actual subject. Neoclassicism relied upon allegory and mythology to justify nudity for a Puritanical audience in the United States. Nudity in reference to the black body during the nineteenth century was a symbol of the commodified body. In various stated of undress, slaves stood on platforms as potential r purchases would bring them the most profit. In this instance, the body on the platform is a gross instance of Libyan Sybil also commodifies the black body in ntity. Truth was no more than a commodity for Story and Stowe as both artists had plans for the literary and sculptural trope that would give them both financial gains. Story desired that the sculpture adorn the Capitol, which would boost his career and provide remuneration. Harriet Beecher Stowe also stood to gain profit for her creation of Truth in her Atlantic Monthly article. She used her previous success in writing about slavery in and created another slave fiction gleaned from h er own racial stereotypes of and an interview with Sojourner Truth. The visual and literary culture of slavery was as much of a commodity as the actual slave body. Story and Stowe harvested from an abundant crop that would satiate the demand of ravenous consumers abolitionists and sympathizing Northerners. In turn, Truth felt an


39 imperative to wrest her public image from fictionalized accounts, similar to the way she The sculptu her identity and person that made her so anxious about self representation. Stowe took A tlantic Monthly some contrived: She wrote, for instance, that Truth had come from Africa, and, even though Truth was very much alive and active in Washington, D.C., at the time, that she wa s dead. (Truth did not die until 1883.) For all her misstatements, Stowe provided 9 The Libyan Sybil fits a classist association with a national issue that skirts the boundaries of slavery Libyan Sybil on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is the most famous example of the mythological chara cter. Michelangelo illustrates the prophetess mourning for humanity after it has turned away from reason and collapsed into a state of ignorance. In its most Sybil Libyan Sybil both mourn the decay of society due to ignorance. The actual myth of Sibyl in reference to Truth explains why depicting Africa as a half clothed, reclining figure turning her back on a book does not fit Truth. Mere contemplation and mourning did not end slavery. Truth was very much a n active part of agitating for abolition. A major component of her sojourns involved speaking and selling books that would persuade audiences to reject slavery. Unlike Stowe and Story whose motivation was built on commercial gain, there was substance 9 Painter, 447.


40 beh For Truth, the knowledge was in the book, and she was responsible for disseminating it. Libyan Sybil depends on her tu rning her back on her own truth. Therefore, Truth had to control the truths (or falsities in props included in her portrait Rather than passively mourning a society, s he actively declares social and religious truths. Hence her adopted name: Sojourner Truth. examination of her biography is necessary. Before there was an abolitionist and suffragis t that we now know as Sojourner Truth (1797 1883), a woman named Isabella walked away from slavery after her owner broke his promise to free her in 1826 Her original owners initially separated Isabella from her parents at the age of nine, and by the time she was free in 1826, five different families had enslaved Isabella in upstate New York Her mother taught her in Dutch which Isabella recalled as spiritual sustenance throughout the earlier part of her life Abject h ardship and abus e compelled Isabella to call upon her limited knowledge of God and seek a greater understanding of spiritual matters. 10 Her quest for spiritual knowledge led her to the Matthias Kingdom Al though the group later revealed itself to be a religious cult fou time with the Matthias Kingdom helped her to discover her own capacity and fervor for preaching After the dismantling of the Matthias Kingdom and a brief stay in New York City, Isabella changed her name to Sojourner Truth on t he day of Pentecost in June 10 Olive Gilbert and Sojourner Truth, Narrative of Sojourner Truth (Boston: Printed for the Author, 1850) http:// (accessed August 21, 2009).


41 1843 11 Her new name identified her as a preacher of truth who was on an odyssey through her morta l life to get to heaven Truth travelled, sermonized, and sold copies of her biography and calling cards until the 1870s. 12 She used her voice to advocate for the full rights of all American citizens from a woman born without legal rights and treated as chattel into a self possessed woman, empowered through her awareness of Pentecostal Christian faith. Her conversion and her freedom were manipulation of Tr fervent about protecting all manners of her personal freedom. A legacy of political activism and engagement with is the legacy that Artis Lane recalled as she p roduced the portrait bust of Sojourner Truth. Her familial descent echoes and enriches the meaning She is a descendant of Abraham Doras Shadd (1801 1882) a free black shoemaker. Shadd committed his life to the abolitionist caus e, serving on the board of managers in William Slavery Society. The first of his thirteen children, Mary Ann Shadd (Cary) (1823 activist, educator, and founder of a n ewspaper, Provincial Freeman After the implementation of The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Shadds emigrated from the United States to Canada West (now Ontario) and continued to educate and advocate for the equality of blacks and women. 13 11 Painter, Sojourner Truth 73. 12 Ibid, 4. 13 Jane Rhodes, Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century (Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Pres s, 1998).


42 In 1927 Arti s Shreve Lane was born i n North Buxton, Ontario, Canada, which was one of the towns founded by blacks that fled to Canada after the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law she began sculpting the clay in her yard into the images of her schoolmates and dolls Lane describes herself as a focused and serious youngster With that focus, she received several accolades for her sculptures and earned entry to the Ontario College of Art and the Univers ity of Toronto She married soon after, and then transferred to The Cranbrook Academy in Michigan to be near her husband, who was then Bill Lane In Michigan, she secured important commissions to paint local political figures. Lane eventually divorced and moved to Los Angeles, California, where she continued her education at UCLA, and she continued to work as a portrait artist Although Lane does not like this portion of her career to be emphasized, it is a crucial body of work in American art She has painted notable figures in American cultural, historical, and political life and h er portrait bronzes and paintings are important documents to the twentieth and twenty first centuries 14 Her bronze portrait of Rosa Parks (1991) is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, and she fashioned a Congressional Medal of Honor with Parks likeness in 1999 Despite the importance of her portraits, Lane prefers to emphasize her sculptures that examine the transcendent qualities of the human experience. the transformative power of the divine, which is a theme that suffuses her oeuvre Lane, a follower of Christian Science, emphasizes the idea of the spiritual journey in her work 14 Ronald Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Hilary Rodham Clinton.


43 15 For Emerging Woman (1990), Lane casted two identical, standing, nude, female figures The bodies in both sculptures a re muscular and the pose s emphasize the taut physique s The ir hands rest on their hips, and the ir arms press back, bent at the elbows In each sculpture weight rests on one leg; the other leg is bent and the foot rests on the opposite calf, reminiscent of a yogic standing tree pose multifarious infl uences, Lane intends the body to demonstrate elongation and elegance that are One of the bronze sculptures in the Emerging Woman pair remains in the transitional form of the casting process, with shards of ceramic obscuring the bronze The other sculpture in the pair possesses the polished surface and attention to detail that is characteristic of Lan The dichotomous pair of sculptures represents a spiritual transition from the flawed to the ideal being The Emerging Into Spirit Series is an artistic embodiment of a spiritual journey and destination Because of her family history and her artistic sensitivity to Lane conceived a portrait bust of physical and metaphysical importance 15 Marlena Donohue, "Essay: Artis Lane," Artis Lane, (accessed May 22, 2009). "Biography," Artis Lane, io.html (accessed May 22, 2009). Lane, interview. Seeking a way to convey the idea of the h uman essence in her art despite the physicality of her primary material, bronze, Lane reached an artistic revelation as she observed a sculpture in its transformative stages. Their unrefined state impressed her as they were still enrobed in the outer ceram ic coating that covers the bronze in the casting process. The unrefined bronzes revealed a metaphor for the Emerging Into Spirit The sculptures function like religious m edieval diptychs, which are two hinged panels that convey a biblical narrative for private devotion. Although in three Emerging figures function in a like manner. She forgoes the physical hinge that typically connects two images in a diptych for an ideological connection that the viewer must arrive at through contemplation.


44 human form, as well as the spiritu al journey that made her a national icon worthy of representation in the Capitol The sculpture is a beautiful likeness and powerful image, but she would like to extend the truncated arms and display more of the body, Eventual physical height discussed in Truth's biography and evident in her carte de visite. 16 Freedom Emancipation Hall Lane provides a representation of a woman transformed from the bonds of slavery . Free dom provides a fruitful juxtaposition between As First Lady Michelle Obama remarked at Sojourner Truth I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving The power of this bust will not just be in the metal that delineates Sojourner Truth's face; it will also be in the message that defines her legacy Forevermore, in the halls of one of our country's great est monuments of liberty and equality, justice and freedom, Sojourner's Truth sto ry will be told again and again. 17 Indeed, the bust provides a significant narrative withi n the Capitol that reflects the ional heritage. 16 Lane, interview. 17 Michelle Obama Lady (April 28, 2009) by the First Lady at the Sojourner Truth Bust Unveiling/ (accessed June 26, 2010).


45 CHAPTER 4 WHERE THE CORNER MEE TS THE CAPITOL: CONT RAST AND COMPARISON Comparison of Sojourner Truth and Swing Low Artis Lane and Alison Saar confronted issues of racial representation as they depicted nineteenth century black women through the lens of the twenty first century The emergence of pseudoscientific research in the nineteenth century sought to prove that blacks were mentally and physically inferior to whites obtained in the course of these ps eudoscientific studies became the basis for caricatures, advertisements, and ultimately fine art. 1 The pseudoscientific research attempted to differentiate races as different species, and through classification and hierarchization, these studies promoted the notion of European superiority. Scientists also attached morality and intelligence to physiognomy in the nineteenth century Studies in phrenology maintained that blacks possessed an inherently corrupted character and inferior intellect, due to their race Comparative biology was also a burgeoning field in the nineteenth century Consequently, the black female body became visually synonymous to the body of the prostitute, mainly because of a Eurocentric perception of African features. 2 The race prej udice that had rationalized the existence of chattel slavery and tainte d visual treatments of the black body in nineteenth century sculpture, dissolved in the hands of black female artists Lane and century perception of the black female body as enslaved, and that ideological subversion connect s 1 American Art 9, no. 2 (Summer 199 5): 39 61. 2 Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race, and Madness (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 76 108.


46 Capitol. Even in her own lifetime, Sojourner Truth was ac tive in projecting a visual identity in the American public that contradicted the prevailing attitudes about blackness in American culture Images that Truth did not self fashion often aligned her with prevailing racial stereotypes William Wetmore Story Truth as a Libyan Si byl sought to exoticize Truth and appeal to their audiences for their own monetary and occupational gains Lane reflects century racial stereotypes of the black body in her twenty first century depiction. 3 Painter notes that although the frontispiece was allegedly based upon a photograph, it was not; the unknown artist created the image from memory or imagination. 4 The headscarf that the portrait of Truth wears in the frontispiece serves a different function than the bonnets that Truth wore in her calling cards The scarf identifies her as a servant within a domestic space or a fi eld hand, while the bonnet situates her as a middle class matron. 5 Lane did not seek The Libyan Sibyl or the frontispiece print in Narrative as inspiration for the portrait bust As a result, Lane avoided the nineteenth century stereotypes Lane used extant calling cards as a model for the portrait bust In addition, her knowledge of her own family history, which included women who occupied a similar class and social station in the nineteenth century, further 3 Olive Gilbert (as to ld by Sojourner Truth ) frontispiece to Narrative of Sojourner Truth (Boston: Printed for the Author, 1850), (accessed June 20, 2010). 4 Painter, Sojourner Truth 109. 5 Ibid, 198.


47 wardrobe archives about Truth destabilizes nineteenth century notions of race and social status. avoided nineteenth century stereotypes by m odeling Swing Low from extant images of Harriet Tubman How ever, Saar used photographs as one point of departure, and she image that becomes more of a narrative than a mime tic portrait She included elements from the frontispiece in Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman and altered it in meaningful ways. 6 Saar notes that she removed the gun because she believed that to the community in Harlem Moreover, the implication of an armed woman in an urban area has much different tones than it did when Tubman was serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. 7 ents from the frontispiece, marks the difference between militant self determination and meaningless gun violence that has plagued urban neighborhoods for decades However, because of the reference to the train, and the narrative to which it alludes, Saar still evokes the message of progression and self determination in Swing Low The solemn expressions in Swing Low and the Sojourner Truth bust also belie nineteenth century stereotypes In the nineteenth th r ough early twentieth centur ies, one of the most pervading features of caricatu res of blacks is the wide, persistent grin While a smile may seem innocuous on the surface, it is a marker of subservience to the 6 Sarah H. Bradford, fro ntispiece to Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman (Auburn, New York: W.J. Moses, 1869), (accessed June 20, 2010). 7 Elizabeth Ross, PhD (School of Art and Art History, University of Florida), conversation with the author, April 14, 2010.


48 Eurocentric project of chattel slavery and dehumanization Moreover, the smile is a performati poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar laments. 8 The smile was also a mark of humiliation that Toni Morrison used as a metaphor in her neo slave narrative, Beloved 9 The protagonist, Se the, remembers her mother in a bit, a device designed to control horses and facilitate human torture during slavery The design was intended for a horse; thus, her to have a permanent grin ection of her mother surfaced when she Before her economic situation collapsed enough to drive her to permanent prostitution, Sethe got a job as a cook, which left her able to smile on her own. 10 The smi le, which she noticed the other prostitutes bearing, was the coping mechanism she adopted to mask her humiliation In nineteenth century slave culture torture, pain, and humiliation intertwine with smiling as a survival mechanism a counteractive strategy to the painful nineteenth century legacy. The clothing is another way in which the artists maintained autonomy from the stereotypes of the nineteenth century Both arti st s clothing in extant images research and attention to their subjects. 8 Lyrics of Lowly Life (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1896), (accessed June 20, 2010). 9 To ni Morrison, Beloved (1987; repr. New York: Penguin, 2000), 240 241. 10 Ibid, 240 241.


49 The gazes of both sculptures are also an important element to contemplate when c onsidering similarities between the sculptures of Tubman and Truth The gazes in both sculptures are intently focused and aware in ways that engage the audience The s and upright stances encourage viewers to look up at rather than down up on the women The gazes in Sojourner Truth and Swing Low create an interactive space that calls nineteenth century persistence of representing the black body into question. Both artists also consciously decided to use bronze Initially, the sponsoring o rganization, NCBW, desired that Lane work on the existing white marble sculpture Portrait Monument (1909) by Adelaide Johnson, to align her with a suffragist history. Previous scholarship has outlined the complications of using white marble to depict Afri can American subjects. 11 African American subjects depicted in m arble often elicit dogmatic ideological assumptions concerning racial purity and cultural ethnocentrism Lane uses bronze as her primary material throughout her oeuvre, and she wanted to use first sculpture of an African American woman in the Capitol Moreover, Lane objected to the artistic and creative limitations of working on a completed sculpture o f ano ther artist, as well as on the moral grounds of such a proposition Additionally, Lane and the C oyed throughout her entire body of work 11 American Art 9, no.2 (Summer 1995): 5 19. Charmaine Nelson, The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth Century America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007). Kirk Savage, Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth Century America (Princeton: Princeton Unive rsity Press, 1997).


50 the artifacts in the skirt, which alludes to the presence of found object in a new sculpture. Swing Low and Sojourner Truth speak to their respective environments on the corner and in the Capitol The reclamation of the voice is an important aspect of subverting a patronizing aesthetic in the nineteenth century bell hooks acknowledges the ability to speak as a crucial aspect to which re present a once enslaved body as free: Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side a gesture of defiance that heals, that ma kes new life and new growth possible It is that act of spe not mere gesture of empty words, that is the expression of our movement from object to subject the liberated voice. 12 Saar has an artistic background in outdoor sc ulptures Therefore, her sculptures speak with an outside voice That is, she uses an approach that engages several senses, while acknowledging various histories The surroundings contribute to the overall theme of Swing Low It conveys a sense of sound an d movement that one would expect in an urban landscape On the other hand, Sojourner Truth can be described as speaking with an inside voice solemnity it commands Lane is familia r with this mode of representation, because she has portrayed countless dignitaries for federal and royal spaces Her sensitivity to her The bust and Swing 12 bell hooks, in Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black ( Boston: South End Press, 1989 ), 9


51 Low intersect in their intention s to belie a nineteenth century history, while simultaneously honoring their surroundings. Contrast between Swing Low and Sojourner Truth of the Twenty First Century and Emancipation Sculpture of the Nineteenth Century Stagnant racial attitudes and a relu ctance to change ideology in the face of the momentous events influenced Emancipation sculpture of the nineteenth century Saar deny an enslaved status on the black body. T he masked racial tensions and allusions to slavery in Freedom foreshadow the Freedom for a sculpture about abolition or emancipation Inherently conflicted as a slaveholder, Davis had an economic agenda that kept him from acknowledging that blacks could be citizens exi st Therefore, Freedom had to represent the plight of white Americans, without ambiguity The anonymity of the slaves in Forever Free maintains the denial of identity and personhood The bust of Sojourner Truth serves as a productive counterpart to Freedom in Emancipation Hall. 13 desire to conceal race and the history of displays the contributions of black citizens of the United States. Emancipation Group and For ever Free reflect one of the most troubling aspects of nineteenth century sculptures concerning slavery and Emancipation in that they 13 A plaster cast of Freedom stands in Emancipation Hall, adjacent to the bronze portrait bust of Sojourner Truth.


52 represent the black body as inherently enslaved At its unveiling in 1876, the keynote speaker, Frederick Douglas commente d that Emancipation Group 14 In representing the chained, kneeling body, the sculptures maintain an inferior status of blacks within the memorial landscape and in neo classical sculpture In both sculptures, a man offers his chains to a source that will release him from bondage The issue at their Emancipation. The anon ymity and lack of clothing of the slaves depicted in Forever Free contribute to the debased status of the black body in nineteenth century sculpture Forever Free also leaves the bodies chained and shackled The chains subtly allude to a continued racial caste through Jim Crow laws. 15 Forever Free denies the potential social progress of Emancipation by continuing to represent a chained slave, rather than developing a new visual vocabulary for race that did not equate blackness with slavery By denying the slaves an individual identity, and social marking of clothing, Lewis perpetuated a lack of subjectivity and promoted blacks as objects. Emancipation Group also conveys issues of identity in terms of the black model Bal l portrays the kneeling slave beside a whipping post, wearing a loincloth, which leaves the majority of his body uncovered reaches to grasp the chains. Classical sculpture typically focuses on the idealized 14 Harold Holzer, Edna Greene Medford, and Frank J. Williams, The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views (Social, Political, Iconographic) (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006), 37. 15 Judith Wilson and Kirsten Buick offer feminist readings of Forever Free in which the chained, kneeling female figure in reference to the chained, standing male represents the adoption of American gender mores that would continue the oppression of black women.


53 human form as a site of moral kneeling and supplicant posture only underscores a continued reliance on the intellectual capital and guidance of a ma ster rather than self determination Additionally, Ball expressed discomfort concerning the use of a black model: he not good enough to compensate for the unpleasantness of being obliged to con duct him through our apartments. 16 Ball e ventually used his own body as a model for Emancipation Group The face of a fugitive slave becom ing the model was a coincidence rather than a purposeful attem pt to identify the man depicted, because Ball did not know that Archer Alexander was a fugitive slave 17 Because of the dress and positioning of the bodies in Emancipation Group, Ball visually represents a racial and social hierarchy. The twentieth century examples of sculpture forgo the emphasis of the body as a tool That is, the slave body cease s to represent a lower function of unrewarded toil and forced labor The clothed, shod body replaces the semi nude, barefoot body that belies any potential agency in society beyond the use of the physical body Swing Low and Sojourner Truth refer to actual historical figures, and their clothing functions as an 16 Thomas Ball, My Three Score Years and Ten (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1891), 253, quoted in Nelson, 36. 17 Lincoln and a Kneeling Slave After ex slaves was enlarging his original half, li fe sized sculpture to nine feet; Murray, 26 32. Ball used a photograph of Archer Alexander, a fugitive slave, as the facial model for the slave in the sculpture. I would like to thank Dr. Craig Friend (North Carolina Stat e University, Raleigh) for addressing the significance of the model at the Conference on Public History Narratives in April 2010. William Greenleaf Eliot, The Story of Archer Alexander, from Slavery to Freedom March 30, 1863 (Boston: Cupples, Upham and Co mpany, 1885), +Archer,+from+Slavery+to+Freedom%22%22&source=gbs_similarbooks_s&cad=1#v=onepage&q&f=fals e (accessed June 18, 2010).


5 4 important marker of their roles and social status es Truth ascended from slavery to become an orator and a middle class matron She wore her carefully coifed hair under a bonnet and a shawl around her shoulders Tubman was an active figure in the Underground Railroad and Saar made visual references to her role throughout the sculpture In both sculptures, chains and shackles remain broken and separate from the body Clothing and identity function dua lly to signify the social status of African Americans in sculpture concerning slavery and Emancipation. As much as the sculptures of the nineteenth century attempts to maintain th e status quo and the sculpture of the twenty first century seeks to progre ss the master narrative of slavery and Emancipation Sojourner Truth and Swing Low reflect a future for blacks within American society, while Emancipation sculpture of the nineteenth century reflects the desired stasis of American racial customs Swing Low and Sojourner Truth offer timely and effective additions to the memorial landscape and American sculpture Saar and Lane deny idealization and neoclassicism for styles and material s that denote racial specificity while still acknowledging the Eu ropean origins of heroic sculptures with the heights and stances Moreover, their styles incorporate aspects of African American culture that acknowledge an American art form that is no longer self conscious about racial and cultural purity Swing Low and Sojourner Truth are an amalgamation of influences that reflect the hybrid nature of American culture, thus creating a new visual iconography that reflects black s agency in their Emancipation.


55 CHAPTER 5 FINAL THOUGHTS ON TH E IDEOLOGICAL SHIFT IN SLAVERY AND COMMEMORATIVE SCULPT URE AND THE POSSIBIL ITY OF TRANSGRESSING NINETE ENTH CENTURY RACIAL DOGMA So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, we are children of t he free woman -Galatians 4:31 (New Living Translation) American Africanisms in the Nineteenth Century Commemorative Landscape of Emancipation and Slavery Slavery, as I discussed earlier, yielded a strange form of representation of the black body in the nineteenth century American commemorative landscape Toni Morrison writes that 1 That is to say, the subliminal conveyors of philosophies, narratives, and political beliefs. Morrison goes on to describe a peculiar form of American Africa nisms that exist in American cultural production American Africanisms produce a self conscious presence and simultaneous masking or an in visible juxtaposition, in which the black body becomes the ideological buttress for the white body politic that is present The prevailing narrative associated with the politics of the white body in the nineteenth century was the guarantee of personal libe rties and rights freedom if it did not in fact create it 2 That is to say, the African and African American presence in the United States gave rise to the ideals that ensured the freedom of white citi zens. 1 Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 1992 ), 4 2 Ibid, 38.


56 3 As the country approached Civil War, the self conscious desire to mask blackness and slavery bec ame Freedom Jefferson Davis requested that Crawford remove any signs of potential abolitionist 4 Davis disavowed that his ownership of slaves was a denial of liberty. This is an obvious paradox, but it is unlikely that it affect ed his beliefs The structure of slavery was such that Davis maintained a belief in racial superiority that just ified slavery, because in his eyes blacks were not sufficiently human and therefore rightfully born enslaved. When the black body was present, like in Emancipation Group it conveyed silence and acquiescence to its lack of authority The slave depicted h ad no sign of a future or a legacy, besides eternal servitude The figure seems like a peripheral consequence to Emancipation Moreover, the supplicant posture, chains, and bodily focus allude to the continued expectation of labor from African Americans T he expectation is apparent in 5 He also gives blacks permission to defend themselves when necessary and to join the armed s ervices However, without the rights of citizenship, which occurred in 1868 with the ratification of the fourteenth amendment, 3 Ibid, 10. 4 Fryd, Art and Empire 188. 5


57 blacks were still subject to exploitation. 6 blacks is the laboring black body, which w as legally free, but not guaranteed the rights of American citizens The kneeling and submissive posture reflected a reliance on paternalism that is also apparent in Forever Free as the woman kneels and the man stands, gazing toward some external source of authority That paternalism contradicts the active contributions of black soldiers, abolitionists, and others towards Emancipation The legacy of paternalism in these sculptures marginalizes the voice of African Americans and makes their contribu tions peripheral, and their trajectory hopeless outside of the paternal presence Nevertheless, paternalism had its cruel limits Emancipation Group Frederick Douglass remarked that the status of African Americans only (as) step children; children by adoption, children by force of 7 political intentions, because he believed Lincoln harbored prejudice and his intentions were never in the interest of helping slaves. Although it was a well intentioned gift from freedmen and women, Douglass referred to the memorial as offering to allay accusations that blacks were ungrateful for their freedom. 8 The legacy of a benign Liberator and passive sl aves has much at stake in the commemorative landscape of slavery and Emancipation in the United States The 6 U.S. Constitution, amend. 14, sec. 1 2. Even after the ratification of the fourteenth amendment, de facto racism prevailed until Plessy v. Ferguson ( 163 U.S. 537 ; 1896), made segregation constitutional. 7 8 Ibid, 15.


58 nineteenth century projection of Lincoln benevolently and deliberately freeing slaves distorts the narrative of Emancipation and silences the voices of those who were agent in their own freedom and resistance against the inhumanity of slavery played an important role, but it is not the entire story The Emancipation Proclamation is only a thread within an intricate tapestry of this a spect of American history. The Oppositional Aesthetic African Americans faced the difficult task of claiming their lives The process of destabilizing Morrison addresses this i ssue of the displaced body through Sethe, the protagonist in Beloved who says that she had to claim herself bit by bit because, 9 In a clearing, within a forest Sethe was able to reclaim her ravaged and tortured body, listening to sermons by her mother in law, Baby Suggs In each meeting, Baby Suggs told her congregation to love themselves; in each beseeching statement, she addressed a different body part Of the hands she hands Those they only use, tie, chop off, and leave empty Love your hands Love them Raise them up and kiss them 10 With each revelation of her body as her own, Set he came closer to claiming her freed self. Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman she conveys her revelation of freedom by observing her hands When she had safely crossed the border oked at my hands to see if I was the 9 Morrison, Beloved 112. 10 Ibid, 103 104.


59 same person There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through 11 Tubman had to examine her hands, her appendages that were once the property of another person, to see if they were the same In a transcendent moment, Tubman was able to recognize that her body was different, even though it looked the same The heavenly, golden glow was her revelation of freedom. The importance of Swing Low and Sojourner Truth is that they convey a complex narrative of transformation and the embodiment of freedom mentally, physically, and spiritually y the paternalism so prevalent in nineteenth century commemorative sculpture concerning Emancipation and slavery narrative. In three crucial ways, the current memorial landscape seeks to oppose the nineteenth century aesthetic of slavery First, it ceases to represent an enslaved black body In Forever Free and Emancipation Group the chains persist. The audience is less likely to interpret the figures in Swing Low and Sojourner Truth as slaves, because they lack a posture of supplication Blackness in the twenty first century is less likely to represent a coded language, or American Africanism, for slave The artists represented lect their self fashioned identities: Tubman returning South to aid fugitive slaves and Truth posing in images that she orchestrated to take authority over her public persona 11 Bradford, Scenes 19. Exodus 2:22.


60 Second, the artists infuse their subjects with a voice that is absent in nineteenth century depictions of the black body The voice is especially apparent in Swing Low as spirituals play an integral role in the sculpture In his narrative, Frederick Douglass ry, and a prayer to 12 The spirituals represent opposition to slavery, though coded in religious piety, which supplants the myth of black passivity in the abolitionist cause The songs in Swing Low incite possibilities of f reedom More Third, the figures in Swing Low and Sojourner Truth look back; they engage viewers with their gazes In doing so, they reclaim space within the commemorative landscape . 13 The function of the gaze is two fold in Swing Low and Sojourner Truth It restores the black the social re alm, as people rather than object s Moreover, the gaze represents the Bit by bit, contemporary artists have created an aesthetic in which the subjects depicted claim their freed selves, in opposition to the nineteenth century representation of the slave in a perpetually enslaved state Artis Lane and Alison Saar represent Truth hat nineteenth century representations neglected As a result, contemporary sculpture has altered the narrative 12 Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave in The Classic Slave Narratives ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (New York: Signet Classics, 2002 ), 349. 13 Black Looks ( Boston: South End Press 1992), 115.


61 that nineteenth century artists projected in the commemorative landscape of Emancipation and slavery for all of posterity.


62 APPENDIX A EPILOGU E If I co uld redo my thesis project, I would approach it with a very different methodology. For the most part my thesis was an independent project until Professor Elizabeth Ross graciously stepped in to help me complete my project. Her vast insight and k nowledge base enriched my thesis dramati cally With her guidance, I found a voice of academic authority, and discovered value and potential in a project that had become the bane of my scholarly existence. Ultimately, I did not intend to make stark contras ts between nineteenth and twentieth century cultural ideologies that surfaced in visual arts across two centuries. Such an examination would be imperceptive and unviable. On the contrary, my intention was to add a new argument to the discussions and cont roversies previously (and brilliantly) parsed out by Murray, Fryd, Savage, Nelson, and Senie. I intended to provide discussions of two important contemporary sculptural monuments with slavery as their subjects A t my thesis defense, I received valuable fee dback. Professor Victoria Rovine remarked that this study would have greatly benefitted from curtailing the discussion of nineteenth articulations of slavery in monuments and memor ials. Professor Robin Poynor identified my tendency to view cultural symbols dogmatically and suggested that my argument explore various possibilities within different contexts. I n hindsight, I fully realize that such discussions are imperative. This epi logue is not a disclaimer; nor is it an apology. On the contrary, it is the beginning of a self dialogue and a meditation on my process as I complete my dissertation.


63 APPENDIX B List Of Artworks Cited Chapter One: Introduction (Mary) Edmonia Lewis. Forever Free 1867 Lisa E. Creating Their Own Image: The History of African American Women Artists. London: Oxford University Press, 2005. 56. Meta Warrick Fuller. Emancipation Proclamation 1913. Plaster (Bronze, c ast in 2000), African American Women Artists. London: Oxford University Press, 2005. 68. Thomas Crawford. Freedom United States Capitol, Washington, DC. Thomas Ball. Emancipation Group Washington, DC. In Farrington, Lisa E. Creating Their Own Image: The History of African American Women Artists. London: Oxford University Press, 2005. 57. Artis Lane. Sojourner Truth 2009. Bronze. CVC, Emancipation Hall, United States Capitol, Washington, DC. Alison Saar (Landscape architect, Quennell Rothschild & Partners). Swing Low 2008. Bronze, natural boulder, and landscaping. Tubman Tria ngle: 123rd Street, St. Nicholas Avenue, & Frederick Douglass Boulevard. John Wilson. Martin Luther King 1985. Bronze. Rotunda, United States Capitol, Washington, DC. Am I Not a Man and A Brother? c. 1787. Wedgewood brooch, jasperware set in silver. I n Savage, Kirk. Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth Century America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997. 22. Chapter Two: The Corner Alison Saar. Hear the Lone Whistle Moan 1991. Bronze grilles and relief s on platforms. 125th Street Harlem Line, New York City. Alison Saar. Tree Souls 1995. Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Painting and Sculpture.(P&S_E_1995_Saar). Within% 3A_Alison_Saar (accessed July 8, 2010 ). Alison Saar. Sweet Magnolia (Detail in Fertile Ground Installation). 1993. Mixed Media. World: Notes toward a Personal Meditatio n on Memory, History, and the


64 Chapter Three: The Capitol Adelaide Johnson. Portrait Monument 1920. Rotunda, United States Capitol, Washington, DC. Unknown. Sojourner Truth (three quarter length portrait, standing, wearing spectacles, shawl, and peaked cap, right hand resting on cane). 1864. Albumen print on carte de visite mount. Library of Congress. William Wetmore Story. Libyan Sibyl 1860 Americ an Art Museum, Washington, DC. Artis Lane. Rosa Parks 1990. Bronze. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Congressional Medal of Honor. 1999. Gold. Woman rnia African American Museum Emerging Woman 1989. Bronze, steel wire, ceramic shell, and resin. Chapter Four: Where the Corner Meets the Capitol Unknown Artist. Frontispiece. In Gilbert, Olive and Sojourner Truth. Narrative of Sojourner Truth Boston: Printed for the Author, 1850. (accessed June 20, 2010) Unknown Artist. Frontispiece. In Bradford, Sarah H. Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman Aub urn, New York: W.J. Moses, 1869. (accessed June 20, 2010).


65 APPENDIX B DISCOGRAPHY Songs of America MP4. Tigers/Split Rock Records, 2007. Common and the Last Poets. Be MP4. Geffen. 2005. 25 All Time Greatest Hits MP4. K Tel. 2007. New Amerykah, Pt. One (Fourth World War) MP4. Universal Motown Records .2008.


66 LIST OF REFERENCES Allen, William C History of Slave Laborers in the Construction of the United States Capitol Washington, D.C.: The Architect of the Capitol, June 1, 2005. American Numismatic and Archaeological Society and Boston Numismatic Society American Journal of Numismatics 35 (July 1900 April 1901): 22 23. Archer, Jermaine O. Antebellum Slave Narratives: Cultural and Political Expressions of Africa New York: Routledge, 2009. Ball, Thomas My Three Score Years and Ten Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1891. Beardsley, John and Martin L. Friedman Visions of America: Landscapes as Metaphor in the Twentieth Century Denver, Colorado: Denver Art Museum, 1994. Bernier, Celeste Marie and Judie Newman Pu blic Art, Memorials, and Atlantic Slavery London: Routledge, 2009. Bradford, Sarah H. Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman Auburn, New York: W.J. Moses, 1869 (accessed June 20, 2010). Harriet, th e Moses of Her People New York: G.R. Lockwood & Son, 1886 (accessed June 20, 2010). Braxton, Joanne M. and Maria Diedrich Monuments of the Black Atlantic: Slavery and Memory New Brunswick New Jersey: Tra nsaction Publishers, 2004. Buick, Kirsten P Autobiography. American Art 9, no.2 (Summer 1995): 5 19. Butler, Octavia E. Kindred Bluestreak Boston: Beacon Press, 1988. Casmier ve Narratives and the Rhetoric of Author Portraiture. New Literary History 34, no.1, Inquiries into Ethics and Narratives (Winter 2003): 91 116. Chaney, Michael A. Fugitive Vision: Slave Image and Black Identity in Antebellum Narrative Bloomington: India na University Press, 2008. Cliff, Michelle Thoughts on the Work of Black Women Artists. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 2, no.1 (Spring, 1986): 7 39.


67 "Object Into Subject: Some Thoughts on the Work of Black Women Artists. In Making face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color edited by Gloria Anzaldua, 271 290 San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1990. Collins, Lisa Gail The Art of History : African American Women Artists Engage the Past New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Cox, Timothy J. Postmodern Tales of Slavery in the Americas: From Alejo Carpentier to Charles Johnson New York: Garland Publishing, 2001. Dallow Jessica Representation of Black Womanhood. Feminist Studies 30, no.1 (2004): 74 113. In Wild Women in the Whirlw ind: Afra American Culture and the Contemporary Literary Renaissance edited by Joanne M. Braxton and AndrÂŽe Nicola McLaughlin, 3 21 New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1990. Doktorczyk Donohue, M American Visions 5, no.2 (April 1990): 22. Douglass, Frederick Oration by Frederick Douglass, Delivered on the Occasion of the Unveiling of the Freedmen's Monument in Memory of Abraham Lincoln, in Lincoln Park, Washington, D. C., April 14th, 1876 Washington, D.C. : Gibson, 1876 lcrbmrp t0c12 (accessed June 25, 2010). Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave In The Classic Slave Narratives edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr., 339 444 New York: Signet Classics, 20 02. Crisis 32 (October 1926): 290 297. Dunbar, Paul Laurence Lyrics of Lowly Life New York: Dodd, Mead, 1896 _t he_mask.htm (accessed June 20, 2010). Social & Cultural Geography 5, no.3 (September 2004): 419 435. Dwyer, Owen J. and Derek H. Alderman Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory Chicago : Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2008. Eliot, Christopher R The Journal of Negro History 29, no.4 (October 1944): 471 475.


68 Eliot, William Greenleaf The Story of Archer Alexander, from Slavery to Freedom March 30, 1863 Boston: Cupples, Upham and Company, 1885 The+Life+of+alexander+Archer,+from+Slavery+to+Freedom%22%22&source=gbs _similarbooks_s&cad=1#v=onepage&q&f=false (acce ssed June 18, 2010). Fabre, Genevive and Robert G. O'Meally History and Memory in African American Culture New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Fairman, Charles Edwin Art and Artists of the Capitol of the United States of America Washington, D .C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1927. Woman's Art Journal 24, no.2 (Autumn 2003 Winter 2004): 15 23. Creating Their Own Image: The History of African American Women Artis ts London: Oxford University Press, 2005. Ferguson, Moira Nine Black Women: An Anthology of Nineteenth Century Writers from the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean New York: Routledge, 1998. Fisch, Audrey A The Cambridge Companion to the African American Slave Narrative Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Fryd, Vivien Green America : Triumphant as Liberty and in Unity. American Art Journal 18, no.2 (Spring 1986): 55 75. "Political Compromise in Public A Statue of Freedom. In Critical Issues in Public Art: Content, Context, and Controversy edited by Harriet Senie and Sally Webster, 105 114 New York: Icon Editions, 1992. Art & Empire: The Politics of Ethnicity in the United St ates Capitol, 1815 1860 New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Freedom Common Place 10, no. 4 (July 2010): http://www.common 10/no 04/fryd/ (accessed Ju l 15, 2010). Gates, Henry Louis In The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro American Literary Criticism, 127 169 New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Gerima, Haile and Pamela Woolford Transition 6 4 (1994): 90 104. Gilbert, Olive and Sojourner Truth Narrative of Sojourner Truth Boston: Printed for the Author, 1850 (accessed June 20, 2010).


69 Gillis, John R., ed Commemorations: The Politics of Natio nal Identity Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994. Gilman, Sander L. Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race, and Madness Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985. Gilroy, Paul Against Race: Imagining Political Cultur e beyond the Color Line Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000. Guyatt, Mary "The Wedgwood Slave Medallion: Values in Eighteenth Century Design. Journal of Design History 13, no.2 (2000): 93 105. Hartman, Saidiya V. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self Making in Nineteenth Century America New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Hein, Hilde The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54, no.1 (Winter 1996) : 1 7. Holzer, Harold, Edna Greene Medford, and Frank J. Williams The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views (Social, Political, Iconographic) Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006. hooks, bell Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking B lack Boston: South End Press, 1989 ). Black Looks: Race and Representation Boston: South End Press, 1992. Art on My Mind: Visual Politics New York: Norton, 1995. Horton Stallings, LaMonda Mutha' is Half a Word: Intersections of Folklore, Ver nacular, Myth, and Queerness in Black Female Culture Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2007. Horton, James Oliver Landmarks of African American History New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Jones, Gayl Corregidora Boston: Beacon Press, 1986. The Greek Slave In Marble Queens and Captives: Women in Nineteenth Century American Sculpture 46 72 New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Keeling, Kara The Witch's Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Fe mme, and the Image of Common Sense Durham: Duke University Press, 2007. Keizer, Arlene R. Black Subjects: Identity Formation in the Contemporary Narrative of Slavery Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004.


70 Kennon, Donald R. and United States Capitol Hi storical Society The United States Capitol: Designing and Decorating a National Icon Athens: Published for the United States Capitol Historical Society by Ohio University Press, 2000. Koen, Derek "Spirit of Harriet Tubman." 19305_spirit of harriet tubman.htm (accessed April 22, 2009). Krane, Susan and Alison Saar Art at the Edge, Alison Saar: Fertile Ground Atlanta, Georgia: High Museum of Art, 1993. the Heroic Ideal, 1864 1997. In The United States Capitol: Designing and Decorating a National Icon edited by Donald R. Kennon, 274 304 Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2000. Lane, Artis Emerging Los Angeles: Artis Lane Studio, 1991. Lane, Artis and California African American Museum A Woman's Journey: The Life and Work of Artis Lane Los Angeles: California African American Museum, 2007. Swing Low: A Harriet Tubman Memorial. Studio: The Studio Museum in Harlem Ma gazine (Summer 2008): 24 25. Lewis, Samella S African American Art and Artists Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Loewen, James W. Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong New York: New Press, 1999. Lowry, Beverly Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life New York: Doubleday, 2007. Lyons, Lisa Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000. Mabee, Carleton and Susan Mabee Newhouse Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend New York: New York Universi ty Press, 1993. McCarthy, Timothy Patrick and John Stauffer Prophets of Protest: Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism New York; New Press, 2006. McDowell, Deborah E. and Arnold Rampersad Slavery and the Literary Imagination Selected Paper s from the English Institute Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989. McElroy, Guy C. and Henry Louis Gates Facing History: The Black Image in American Art, 1710 1940 San Francisco: Bedford Arts Publishers in association with the Corcoran Gall ery of Art Washington, D.C., 1990.


71 McElya, Micki Controversy of the 1920s. In Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory ed. Cynthia Mills and Pamela H. Simp son, 203 218 Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2003. McKittrick, Katherine and Clyde Adrian Woods Black Geographies and the Politics of Place Toronto, Ontario; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Between the Lines; South End Press, 2007. Mitchell, Angely n The Freedom to Remember: Narrative, Slavery, and Gender in Contemporary Black Women's Fiction New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Morrison, Toni Beloved 1987. Reprint, New York: Penguin, 2000. In Ou t There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures edited by Marcia Tucker, 299 305 Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992. Moten, Fred In In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition 1 24 Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003. Murray, Freeman Henry Morris Emancipation and the Freed in American Sculpture: A Study in Interpretati on 1916. Reprint, Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1972. Nelson, Charmaine America : Shackles, Slaves, and the Racial Limits of the Nineteenth Century National Identity. Canadian Review of American Studies 34, no.2 (2004): 167 183. The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth Century America Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. Nelson, Steven "Emancipation and the Freed in American Sculpture: Race, Representation and the Beginnings of an African American History of Art. In Art History and its Institutions: Foundations of a Discipline edited by Elizabeth Mansfield, 283 294 London: Routledge, 2002. The White House, Office of the First Lady (April 28, 2009) by the First Lady at the Sojourner Truth Bust Unveiling/ (accessed June 26, 2010).


72 O'Grady, Lorraine "Olympia's Maid: Reclaiming Black Female Sub jectivity. In New Feminist Criticism: Art, Identity, Action edited by Joanna Frueh, Cassandra L. Langer and Arlene Raven, 152 170 New York, NY: Icon Editions, 1994. Oostindie, Gert Facing Up to the Past: Perspectives on the Commemoration of Slavery f rom Africa, the Americas and Europe Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2001. Painter, Nell Irvin Known. The Journal of American History 81, no.2 (September 1994): 461 492. Sojourn er Truth: A Life, a Symbol New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. Patterson, Orlando Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982. Patton, Venetria K. Women in Chains: The Legacy of Slavery in Black Women's Fiction Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000. Powell, Richard J In History and Memory in African American Culture edited by Genevive Fabre and Robert G. O'Meally, 228 243 New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008. Raiford, Leigh and Renee Christine Romano The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006. Records of the Architect of t he Capitol Washington, D.C. [Works of Art; Works of Art; Sculptors], [Sojourner Truth Bust by Artis Lane; Busts: Truth, Sojourner by Artis Lane; Protocol and Proposal; Artis Lane, Unveiling]. Rhodes, Jane Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998. Roberts, Mary Nooter and Alison Saar Body Politics: The Female Image in Luba Art and the Sculpture of Alison Saar Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2000. Rushdy, Ashraf H. A. Neo Slave Narratives: Studies in the Social Logic of a Literary Form New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Saar, Alison Tangible Spirits with Alison Saar: A Portrait of the Artist Videocassette Directed by Ruth Twiggs and Bruce Berryhill Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1996.


73 Savage, Kirk Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth Century America Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997. Schur, Richard soul Aesthetic s in Contemporary African American Art. African American Review 41, no.4 (Winter 2007): 641 654. Senie, Harriet Contemporary Public Sculpture: Tradition, Transformation, and Controversy New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Senie, Harriet and Sally Webster Art Journal 48, no.4 (Winter 1989): 287 290. Sernett, Milton C. Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, and History Durham: Duke University Press, 2007. Shackel, Paul A. Myth, Memory, and the Making of the American Lands cape Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001. Sharpe, Jenny Ghosts of Slavery: A Literary Archaeology of Black Women's Lives Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003. Shaw, Gwendolyn DuBois Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walke r Durham: Duke University Press, 2004. Spaulding, A. Timothy Re forming the Past: History, the Fantastic, and the Postmodern Slave Narrative Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2005. Spillers, Hortense J. Black, White, and in Color: Essays on Ameri can Literature and Culture Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. Streitmatter, Rodger Raising Her Voice: African American Women Journalists who Changed History Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1994. Thompson, Barbara Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College in association with University of Washington Press, 2008. Walker, Kara Elizabeth Kara Walker: Pictures from another Time Ann Arbor: Univers ity of Michigan Museum of Art, 2002. Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003. Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2007. Walker, Margaret "Harriet Tubman. Phylon 5, no.4 (1944): 326 30. Jubilee Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966.


74 How I Wrote Jubilee and Other Essays on Life and Literature New York: Feminist Press at The City University of New York, 1990. Wallace Sanders, Kimberly Skin Deep, Spirit Stron g: The Black Female Body in American Culture Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002. Kongo Ideology in the Art Work of Betye and Alison Saar: The Reimagination of a Cultural Heritage Wallis, Brian American Art 9, no.2 (Summer 1995): 39 61. Williams, Timothy "Why is Harriet Tubman Facing South? The New York Times http: // is harriet tubman facing south/?apage=3 (accessed April 22, 2009). Wilson, Judith Callaloo 14, no.1 (Winter 1991): 107 123. "Hagar's Daughters: Social Hist ory, Cultural Heritage, and Afro U.S. Women's Art. In Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists edited by Maya Angelou and Jontyle Theresa Robinson, 95 112 New York: Spelman College and Rizzoli International Publications, 199 6. Wood, Marcus Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America, 1780 1865 Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000. The Horrible Gift of Freedom: Atlantic Slavery and the Representation of Emancipation Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2010. Woolfork, Lisa Embodying American Slavery in Contemporary Culture Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2009. Migration to Can ada, 1850 1870 Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 18, no.3 (1997): 1 16. Yellin, Jean Fagan Liberty American Quarterly 38, no.5 (Winter 1986): 798 826. Zabel, Darcy The (Underground) Railroad in African American Literature New York: Peter Lang, 2004.


75 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Elizabeth Carmel Hamilton earned her Master of Arts in art history from the Unive rsity of Florida in the summer of 2013 as a McKnight Doctoral Fellow en route to her PhD She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a focus on drawing and painting, at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Currently, she is continuing her coursework in art history towards her PhD, where her research interests include postmodern articulation s of blackness and notions of racial authenticity in the arts and visual culture of the African Diaspora in Europe and North America.