In Search of Venus, an Enslaved Woman at Harvard

by Mark Auslander (1 September 2020) On October 25, 1726, Harvard’s recently appointed President Rev. Benjamin Wadsworth wrote in his diary, “I bought a negro wench (thot to be under 20 years old) of Mr. Bulfinch of Boston, sail-maker. Was to give 85 pounds for her; she came to our house at Cambridge this day,Continue reading “In Search of Venus, an Enslaved Woman at Harvard”

Carved Rockfaces and Indigenous Powers: Pondering Stone Mountain and Mount Rushmore

I have been puzzling over why it is that the two most prominent carved rockfaces in the United States–Georgia’s Stone Mountain and the Black Hills’ Mount Rushmore–which are both subject to considerable renewed controversy at the present moment, are incised upon spaces that were, and are still, held sacred in Native American communities. More isContinue reading “Carved Rockfaces and Indigenous Powers: Pondering Stone Mountain and Mount Rushmore”

Invocation of the Muse: Visual Artists in Mark Titus’ film The Wild

Last night I watched a digital screening of Mark Titus’ stunning new film The Wild, a sequel to his 2014 film The Breach, on the struggle to save southeastern Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine project, which threatens vast environmental damage to the world’s last surviving major salmon fishery. There are many extraordinarily interestingContinue reading “Invocation of the Muse: Visual Artists in Mark Titus’ film The Wild”

Say Their Names: Kadir Nelson

The week of June 22, 2020, sees one of the most brilliant images in the storied history of New Yorker covers, Kadir Nelson’s “Say Their Names.” Within an elongated body of the murdered George Floyd, we behold a host of other people of color, many murdered or martyred, across four centuries of American history. TheContinue reading “Say Their Names: Kadir Nelson”

Making Visible: Hanford Sturgeon and Indigenous Nuclear Art

The artist Paul Klee long ago remarked, “Art does not show what is visible. Instead it makes visible.” Klee’s rather cryptic insight is beautifully illustrated by one of the most remarkable works in the collections of the Michigan State University Museum, a ‘sally bag” woven basket by the Wasco (Warm Springs) Native American artist PatContinue reading “Making Visible: Hanford Sturgeon and Indigenous Nuclear Art”

Traveling Together: Slavery, Landscape, and Historical Imagination

Diverse geographical sites, which we thought we knew, can link us, in unexpected ways, to nearly forgotten histories of slavery and liberation. For several years, I have been exploring the stories of enslaved African Americans who resided, not under conditions of their own choosing, in the region now known as “Cathedral Heights,” in northwest Washington,Continue reading “Traveling Together: Slavery, Landscape, and Historical Imagination”

A New Tabernacle: Remembering Lynching in Montgomery, Alabama

The most important American memorial in a generation isthe  National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama. Since it opened in April 2018, the memorial, designed by the MASS Design Group, in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative on a six acre site in downtown Montgomery, has become one of the world’s most-discussed monuments.Continue reading “A New Tabernacle: Remembering Lynching in Montgomery, Alabama”

Inspiration from the Waters: Apay’uq’s Art and the Bristol Bay Struggle

The complex ecosystem of Bristol Bay in southeast Alaska, and the struggle to preserve this world’s largest salmon fishery from the planned Pebble Mine project, have  “spawned” a great range of artistic responses, including the striking work of the artist  Apay’uq. For Yup’ik peoples, like other Native peoples of the region, the life cycles ofContinue reading “Inspiration from the Waters: Apay’uq’s Art and the Bristol Bay Struggle”