Sedrick Ervin Huckaby (American, born 1975), She Wore Her Family’s Quilt, 2015, Oil on canvas, Photo by Gregory Staley, © Sedrick Huckaby
A woman appears deep in thought, a quilt wrapped around her shoulders. Multiple colorful quilts drape the wall in front of her. Thickly applied strokes of paint unite the woman and her surroundings. In his portraits, figure paintings, and abstract compositions, Sedrick Huckaby evokes themes of family, community, and heritage, often drawing upon quilt designs. Huckaby states, “I believe my paintings are done in a language more closely in tune with my soul than the language of my tongue.” Known mostly for his monumentally sized paintings, Huckaby here created a deeply personal moment on an intimate scale.
Beverly Buchanan (American, 1940–2015), Shack with Chair, 1989, Acrylic on foam board, Photo by Gregory Staley, © Beverly Buchanan
Born in North Carolina, Beverly Buchanan created expressive sculptures she called “shacks,” inspired by childhood memories of vernacular architecture in the rural South. This tall, narrow structure appears constructed with scraps, yet bears vibrant colors that hint at hope and resilience in the face of poverty. “I’m interested in [the shacks’] shapes and how they’re made and how they reflect the people who built them,” said Buchanan. “I consider my shacks portraits. It’s the spirit that comes through the forms.”
Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), Record Date, 1979, Monotype, Photo by Gregory Staley, © 2022 Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Romare Bearden created collages, paintings, and prints that captured the daily lives of African Americans. Here, he chose the improvisational process of monotype as a suitable medium to portray a lively jazz quartet. Absorbed by their music, three horn players and a pianist emerge from the expressive, abstract forms. To create the monotype, Bearden painted directly onto a printing plate, laid a sheet of paper over the plate, then ran the two through a press to squeeze the paint onto the paper. The result is a one-of a-kind image, rather than a series of multiples as produced by other printmaking techniques.
Gordon Parks (American, 1912–2006), Untitled, New Britain, Connecticut, 1943, Gelatin silver print, Photo by Reis Birdwhistell, Courtesy of and © The Gordon Parks Foundation
Two female welders pause during their work, the shields on their helmets lifted to reveal their faces. Gordon Parks photographed the women from a low vantage point, emphasizing their monumental and heroic stature. They were among workers at Landers, Frary & Clark in New Britain, Connecticut, which produced mounted machine guns for the war effort. During World War II, factories employed thousands of American women. These opportunities were expanded for Black women after an executive order signed in 1941 prohibited racial discrimination in the defense industry. A photographer, filmmaker, and author, Parks revealed the ravages of poverty and racism, and documented the struggle for civil rights.