Photo courtesy of Sable Elyse Smith

In conjunction with the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art will present "Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation," featuring newly commissioned and recent works by Sadie Barnette, Alfred Conteh, Maya Freelon, Hugh Hayden, Letitia Huckaby, Jeffrey Meris, and Sable Elyse Smith.

The new exhibition visualizes Black freedom, agency, and the legacy of the Civil War in 2023 and beyond. The seven installations, spanning sculpture, photography, and paper and textile fabrications, will react to the legacy of John Quincy Adams Ward’s bronze sculpture The Freedman (1863) from the Carter’s collection and will highlight the diversity of materials and forms in sculpture, installation, and mixed media today. Co-organized by the Carter and the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), the exhibition demonstrates how historical art collections can be a resource and inspiration for contemporary artistic practices.

Seeking a deeper understanding of what freedom looks like for Black Americans after 160 years, "Emancipation" interrogates the role of sculpture in American life by bringing the perspectives of contemporary Black artists into dialogue with the multi-faceted form and content of Ward’s The Freedman. Initially envisioned and sculpted by Ward before the end of the Civil War, the figure is depicted on the cusp of liberation, with bonds ruptured but not removed. The work is one of the first American depictions of a Black figure cast in bronze, and the Carter’s cast from 1863, dedicated to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, an all-Black infantry unit, is the only copy of its kind with a key that releases a shackle from the figure’s wrist.

While considered aspirational in its time, over a century and a half later, The Freedman’s reflection of uncertainty and endurance seem to manifest the long reach of American slavery. Contextualized by a selection of other Civil War-era works from the Carter; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park; and other collections, the figure’s contemporary resonance issues a prompt for portraits of freedom, imprisonment, corporality, personhood, and power in 2023 to inform the next century.

The seven living artists represented in "Emancipation" were each invited to explore The Freedman through the lenses of their own lives and the multiplicity of meanings those contexts create for the form of emancipation.

In conjunction with the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art will present "Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation," featuring newly commissioned and recent works by Sadie Barnette, Alfred Conteh, Maya Freelon, Hugh Hayden, Letitia Huckaby, Jeffrey Meris, and Sable Elyse Smith.

The new exhibition visualizes Black freedom, agency, and the legacy of the Civil War in 2023 and beyond. The seven installations, spanning sculpture, photography, and paper and textile fabrications, will react to the legacy of John Quincy Adams Ward’s bronze sculpture The Freedman (1863) from the Carter’s collection and will highlight the diversity of materials and forms in sculpture, installation, and mixed media today. Co-organized by the Carter and the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), the exhibition demonstrates how historical art collections can be a resource and inspiration for contemporary artistic practices.

Seeking a deeper understanding of what freedom looks like for Black Americans after 160 years, "Emancipation" interrogates the role of sculpture in American life by bringing the perspectives of contemporary Black artists into dialogue with the multi-faceted form and content of Ward’s The Freedman. Initially envisioned and sculpted by Ward before the end of the Civil War, the figure is depicted on the cusp of liberation, with bonds ruptured but not removed. The work is one of the first American depictions of a Black figure cast in bronze, and the Carter’s cast from 1863, dedicated to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, an all-Black infantry unit, is the only copy of its kind with a key that releases a shackle from the figure’s wrist.

While considered aspirational in its time, over a century and a half later, The Freedman’s reflection of uncertainty and endurance seem to manifest the long reach of American slavery. Contextualized by a selection of other Civil War-era works from the Carter; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park; and other collections, the figure’s contemporary resonance issues a prompt for portraits of freedom, imprisonment, corporality, personhood, and power in 2023 to inform the next century.

The seven living artists represented in "Emancipation" were each invited to explore The Freedman through the lenses of their own lives and the multiplicity of meanings those contexts create for the form of emancipation.

In conjunction with the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art will present "Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation," featuring newly commissioned and recent works by Sadie Barnette, Alfred Conteh, Maya Freelon, Hugh Hayden, Letitia Huckaby, Jeffrey Meris, and Sable Elyse Smith.

The new exhibition visualizes Black freedom, agency, and the legacy of the Civil War in 2023 and beyond. The seven installations, spanning sculpture, photography, and paper and textile fabrications, will react to the legacy of John Quincy Adams Ward’s bronze sculpture The Freedman (1863) from the Carter’s collection and will highlight the diversity of materials and forms in sculpture, installation, and mixed media today. Co-organized by the Carter and the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), the exhibition demonstrates how historical art collections can be a resource and inspiration for contemporary artistic practices.

Seeking a deeper understanding of what freedom looks like for Black Americans after 160 years, "Emancipation" interrogates the role of sculpture in American life by bringing the perspectives of contemporary Black artists into dialogue with the multi-faceted form and content of Ward’s The Freedman. Initially envisioned and sculpted by Ward before the end of the Civil War, the figure is depicted on the cusp of liberation, with bonds ruptured but not removed. The work is one of the first American depictions of a Black figure cast in bronze, and the Carter’s cast from 1863, dedicated to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, an all-Black infantry unit, is the only copy of its kind with a key that releases a shackle from the figure’s wrist.

While considered aspirational in its time, over a century and a half later, The Freedman’s reflection of uncertainty and endurance seem to manifest the long reach of American slavery. Contextualized by a selection of other Civil War-era works from the Carter; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park; and other collections, the figure’s contemporary resonance issues a prompt for portraits of freedom, imprisonment, corporality, personhood, and power in 2023 to inform the next century.

The seven living artists represented in "Emancipation" were each invited to explore The Freedman through the lenses of their own lives and the multiplicity of meanings those contexts create for the form of emancipation.

WHEN

WHERE

Amon Carter Museum of American Art
3501 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Fort Worth, TX 76107
https://www.cartermuseum.org/exhibitions/emancipation-unfinished-project-liberation

TICKET INFO

Admission is free.
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