My subconscious mind pulled a fast one on me last night, waiting until I was defenselessly tottering on the edge of sleep before pointing out that I have one more week to finish this house. The listing contract is signed and the moving van is rented. I’m tightening the vise on myself and it hurts.
All of which means I have very little mind-space left for thinking or writing about art. This, then, is a good week to consider familiar and well-loved paintings. I’ll start with a famous series about moving.
Painter Jacob Lawrence concentrated on the history and struggles of African Americans. His most famous work, called Migration of the Negro, was completed when he was just 23. This sixty-panel work portrayed the Great Migration, when hundreds of thousands of African Americans moved from the rural South to the industrial North after World War I. (This trend is being reversed now, as southern cities outperform the north in economic development.)
The Great Migration was one of the biggest and fastest mass movements in American history. It took the black laborer from farming to industry—in particular the steel and automobile industries. It took the black family from rural life to the city. All the cities of the so-called Rust Belt owe their modern character and culture in large part to the Great Migration.