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An Art Commentary on Lynching: How a 1935 Exhibition Resonates Today

In 1997, Margaret Rose Vendryes published an essay, “Hanging on Their Walls: An Art Commentary on Lynching, The Forgotten 1935 Exhibition,” in the anthology Race Consciousness: African-American Studies for the New Century. That “new” century is now a generation old. Recent protests demanding an end to violence against black people, particularly black men, are echoed in the art that populated that brief, and forgotten, 1935 exhibition.

Vendryes revisits her 1997 essay in light of Hale Woodruff’s prints in the Pressing Issues: Printmaking as Social Justice in 1930s United States on view at the Weisman Art Museum, and the sensitivities given to presenting the lynching subject matter. The theme of violence against black people has engaged African American artists since 1935 in myriad, and more caustic, ways than their forefathers who boldly displayed work during the height of Jim Crow segregation in a blatantly political exhibition calling for lawmakers to end lynching.

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Relevant research areas: North America, 20th Century, Contemporary

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