COMMENTARY: Choices for our lives


­­ELECTION 2008 – Musings 

Over the summer, I saw an exhibit at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC of Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration.  Lawrence, a New Jersey native, was an extraordinary 20th century African- American painter.  The Migration is a narrative set of 60 acclaimed paintings depicting the movement of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North beginning around World War I. It was a very vivid and moving exhibit. 

As I wandered throughout the rest of the museum, which is billed as America’s first museum of modern art, I was struck by one thing: the displayed collection included only one painting (as far as I could detect) by an African-American artist (Horace Pippin). It struck me that far too often we only see African-American works as special exhibits or in African-American museums but not en masse as part of the displayed collections in a “mainstream” museum.