Acrylic and spray paint on stretched canvas, framed
Size: 49" x 49"
Historical and literary references:
Inspired by Henry O. Tanner's 1894 painting "The Banjo Lesson,” The Battle of Osawatomie explores Mr. Tanner's experience as the United States first internationally recognized African American painter. Tanner's mother was an escaped slave who gave her son the middle name of “Ossawa" in honor of the abolitionist, John Brown, who fought pro-slavery forces in a battle named after the Kansas town where the skirmish took place. In an era soon after the end of slavery, Tanner was seen in the States as "a black artist” and faced the racism of the time. As a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, he was once found in the streets of Philadelphia bound to a painting easel. This piece reflects on Tanner's description of his later studies in Paris, where the artist was only referred to as "Monsieur artiste extraordinaire" and his art, not the color of his skin, was the focal point. Throughout, there are images that reflect racism and negative ideologies during that time. The left and right side of the work depict several faces in various shapes and sizes, as well as hints of machinery, architecture and other forms. The right side of the painting includes yellow and blue tones that are homage to the original work.