African-American Art and Stereotypes

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bRoberto Reynoso

Professor Heinrichs

African American Art

25 March 2013

Sterotypes
Stereotypes have long been the barrier that kept the African American artist from developing openly in true arts. John Ott in his essay called “Labored Stereotypes” tells the story of Palmer Hayden, an African American artist that struggled to have his art noticed. Ott also focusses on how when Hayden did finally reach artistic acclaim it was still not how he wanted to be represented because the Harmon Foundation attempted to take credit for the discovery of Hayden. Phoebe Wolfskill also writes about African American artists including Palmer Hayden in her essay “Caricature and the New Negro in the Work of Archibald Motley Jr. and Palmer Hayden”. Wolfskill tried to show her audience that Hayden made masterful use of visual mediums to satirically represent his downtrodden subjects. Ott and Wolfskill believed Hayden was a key in breaking the race and stereotype barrier in African American art. Palmer C. Hayden was born February 18 1890 in Wide Water, Virginia. He was a self-taught artist that struggled with his artistic career due solely to stereotypes. Hayden’s talent though, was distinct enough for him to win an award from the Harmon Foundation of Fine Arts in 1933. This was the award that jump started Hayden’s career. The award was presented for Hayden’s painting The Janitor who paints which was a caricaturized picture of a janitor that paints as a side hobby. This painting was Hayden’s sort of way to represent his self-image. Hayden felt as if he was just an artist, but the color of his skin held him hostage in his field of work. Because he was black, he would never be fully seen as an outright artist. Even when Hayden did reach acclaim it was not made out to on his own credit. Ott wrote about this misrepresentation and on it he says, “From its first press release, the foundation labeled the inaugural recipient of the William E Harmon Award...
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