1001 Black Men #901


At the Whitney Museum, New York, New York.


On my recent research trip to the Brooklyn Historical Society, I traveled to Manhattan to see the Archibald Motley exhibit at the Whitney Museum. If you’re not familiar with Archibald Motley, he was a wonderfully talented Modernist painter, frequently associated with the Harlem Renaissance. I’ve been familiar with Motley’s work because of my work in Harlem Renaissance literature. I’d seen a few of his paintings in books; but I’d never seen even one of his paintings in real life, until I stepped out of the elevator and into this exhibit. For a moment, the experience of being in the same room with so many of Motley’s works took my breath away.  I don’t even know how to express the impact of experiencing the work of a Black man, born in the nineteenth century, who dared to make his art his life. He paved the way for so many of us. How can I not work to the best of my ability? How can I not strive to prove myself worthy of his path?

Ajuan Mance

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