A common inspiration for artists throughout history is literature. In the mid 1800’s Eyre Crowe was inspired by Uncle Tom’s Cabin and personal observation from a trip to America to paint images of slavery in America. These experiences and understanding this literature allowed him to create emotional and unique pieces on the representation of slavery. In a similar way you see the connection between literature and art by modern artists such as Kara Walker, who examines a diverse set of historical resources for her such as slave narratives, journals, minstrelsy, and Harlequin romance novels. By understanding in-depth the context and background of the images she’s creating, she’s able to validate her work, giving her the opportunity to parody these scenes at the same time as referencing historically accurate characters. As Tang suggests, which I think could be applied to more than just Kara Walker’s artwork, “If we recognize, as Jameson writes, that “history progresses by failure rather than by success,” through the work of “actors and agents constrained by their own ideological limits and those of their moment of history”, then we might begin to read Walker’s art as only a moment of hesitation, a suspenseful pause, in an historical narrative that continues to unfold before us.”

Ellee Banaszak, Hope College Class of 2017


Photo credit: Geoffrey Whiteway


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