Centennial Of Great Migration In Paintings

Submitted By treblig87
Words: 1449
Pages: 6

Gilbert Santana
Professor Campoy
Art 11
Monday April 13th, 2015

Centennial of Great Migration in Paintings

“One-Way Ticket” at MoMA reunites Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Paintings. The series describes the painful life in the south, the dream to head north to improve the quality of life, the obstacles of migration faced by African Americans, and the chances of a new life for 1.5 million African Americans. This exhibition is meant to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of migration, which took place during World War I. This is the first time in more than twenty years that Lawrence’s sixty paintings are together at MOMA. They are being exhibited in a very special way this time; they are accompanied by other visuals, music, film, and artwork that give the public a clear perspective of the subjects of the 20th century’s Great Migration of millions of blacks from the rural south, the urban north, Midwest and west. The exhibition makes emphasis in history. When walking into the gallery, it is difficult not to think how far we have come, and more significantly how far we still have to go.
MOMA’s supervisor Leah Dickerman wanted to create an exhibition including images, sounds, and unavoidable wall writings. This is exactly what people perceive as they enter the gallery located on the third floor. The first thing visitors listen to as they enter the gallery is music from the late 1920s to the late 1940s; music from musicians such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Marian Anderson are played during the exhibition. There are certain types of wood furniture which are centered in the rectangular room, and they invite visitors to take a seat and explore digital sources such as historical books, videos recordings, and audio to get a better sense of what the exhibition is about. Also, in another section of the gallery, there are photographs taken by Langston Hughes, images by Gordon Parks, and sociological studies made by Carter G., Charles Johnson, and others that relate directly to the migration.
Out of the sixty paintings by Jacob Lawrence, there are four paintings that catch everyone’s attention. This is because if someone has the ability to imagine, one would understand the whole series by just seeing these four panels. The “Panel Number thirty-Eight” can be interpreted as African Americans’ ultimate goal. They just wanted to provide their family with a roof and food. In this piece of art, the artist represented a wood wall with a piece of fresh meat hanging on it and a large bread with a knife on its side; this piece shows basically what those people thought might be found in the north if they migrate there. The panel’s items are placed by the artist in a very particular way. When one sees this painting, one immediately thinks about getting food. The knife is pointing towards the bread and the meat hanging on the wall. Lawrence used the scale very effectively on this one to play with the wall and the bread color. The lines of the wall put the meat and the bread on such a perspective that cannot be avoided. Lawrence used casein tempera on hardboard 18’ by 12’ inches (45.7 by 30.5 cm). His art style is nothing fancy; instead, it is brilliant, meaningful, and made with inexpensive medias. Another reason why the Great Migration took place was due to the lynching. Back in the south, African Americans were afraid to be executed anytime. This feeling of insecurity was part of the causes that made them decide to leave the south. “Panel Number Fifteen” shows a man sitting on a rock facing a river and behind him is a gallows. This man seems is very sad, as he knows he is about die. It is a very sad painting because what can be interpreted is that a man is waiting for his death, and he is also wondering how to change his situation. These people trying to migrate to the north were looking for something more than food. They were looking for security. This panel was made using casein tempera on hardboard, 18’ by 12’ inches (45.7 by