Terrestrial Subjectivities

Terrestrial Subjectivities

19th and 20th century African American landscape and still life artists challenged visual colonial stereotypes developing psychological mindscapes inspired by nature and everyday life. Using depth, color, volume, and focal perspective, the artists embedded cosmos sensorial, cultural, and socio-political experiences in their visually imagined landscapes. Double consciousness Black cultural subjectivities informed their creative process as they rejected racialized assumptions of inferiority, shallowness, and criminality.

Edward Mitchell Bannister’s warm colors, Grafton Tyler Brown’s ephemeral blues, Robert S. Duncanson’s yellow golden glow, and Henry Ossawa Tanner’s green hues, are some of the visual political gestures that unsettled Eurocentric color patterns. Their artworks speak of idyllic sites free of racial, economic, and social injustices.

For those viewing these works of art, acknowledging our embedded extra-optical ideologies facilitates a transformative changed in the observer’s perception of color and space in relation to racialized and culturally codified knowledge.

Henry Ossawa Tanner, American, 1859 - 1937, Gateway in Tangier, 1910-1914, printed c. 1950, Etching, 10 x 8 1/2 in.; Framed: 25 1/2 x 19 x 1 in., The Ronald W. and Patricia Walters Collection


Grafton Tyler Brown, American, 1841 - 1918, Across The Ferry, Columbia River, c. 1900, Oil on board, 22 x 14 in.; Framed: 28 x 20 1/4 x 1 1/2 in., The Ronald W. and Patricia Walters Collection


Betey Saar, American, born 1926, The Wounded Wilderness, 1962, Etching and aquatint, 23 x 14 in., The Ronald W. and Patricia Walters Collection



Artists Included:

Edward Mitchell Bannister, American, 1828 – 1901

Grafton Tyler Brown, American, 1841 – 1918

Robert S. Duncanson, American, 1821 – 1872

Alfred Hair, American, 1941 - 1970/1971

Floyd Newsum, American, born 1959

Stephanie E. Pogue, American, 1944 – 2002

John Wesley Hardrick, American, 1891 – 1968

William A. Harper, Canadian, 1873 – 1910

Barkley Hendricks, American, 1945 – 2017

Betye Saar, American, born 1926

Henry Ossawa Tanner, American, 1859 – 1937

Richard Mayhew, American, born 1924

Lou Stovall, American, 1937 – 2023

Benny Andrews, American, 1930 - 2006