Confrontation

With its half-demolished wall, odd configuration of poles, hula-hoop-like ring, and distant vista of calm water and low mountains, Confrontation presents an incongruous and unsettling image. But something is familiar about the scene; a quality of Deja vu that summons memories of difficult personal encounters. We assume a connection between two young women, yet it is impossible to know the…

The Beach

Hughie Lee-Smith’s art conveys the alienation and isolation experienced by many African Americans during the middle decades of the twentieth century, yet his work speaks in larger terms about our inability to reach out and connect with others on grounds larger than race. Although Lee-Smith was a direct contemporary of Jacob Lawerence, his art followed a different trajectory, adopting an…

The Stranger

Like many other artists of the Cold War era, Hughie Lee-Smith explored themes of exclusion and alienation in his paintings. He believed that the African American experience in particular was one of rejection and isolation and his feelings of racial disparity frequently influenced his work. In The Stranger, a lone figure stands in the foreground engulfed by a brown and…

Women Builders

Women Builders celebrates the contributions of Black women. Johnson borrowed the title and the women’s likenesses from a 1931 book by Sadie lola Daneil (possibly the center right figure). Lucy Craft Laney, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Janie Porter Barrett (on the left side of the painting) created institutions and programs where young black women in the South…