7 Black Artists Offer a Dialogue on Freedom in This Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas
In January 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, defining the Civil War as a struggle to end slavery. John Quincy Adams Ward’s contemporaneous sculpture The Freedman, one of the first American depictions of a Black figure cast in bronze, shows a slave on the cusp of liberation, with bonds ruptured but not yet removed. To mark the 160th anniversary of the proclamation, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, is mounting “Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation,” a spring exhibition in which newly commissioned and recent works by seven of today’s leading Black artists—Sadie Barnette, Alfred Conteh, Maya Freelon, Hugh Hayden, Letitia Huckaby, Jeffrey Meris, and Sable Elyse Smith—react to the legacy of Ward’s bronze, which is in the museum’s collection. By inviting each artist to critically engage the layered history of The Freedman and other artworks of the period through the lenses of their own lives, the exhibition seeks a nuanced understanding of what freedom and agency look like for Black Americans in 2023.
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