Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, Ph.D., Assistant Curator of American Art, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University: This painting belongs to a series of tar portraits in which the artist imagines enslaved sitters as freed men and women, a conceptual tactic he calls “visual reparation.” With speciﬁc reference to Thomas Jefferson’s Farm Book, which contains lists of Jefferson’s slaves, Titus Kaphar employs the style of Old Master paintings to address representational absence and erasure in the history of art. By presenting this sitter in historical dress above her lived status, Kaphar posthumously frees her from forever being represented as a slave. In this work, the artist harnesses the medium of portraiture in an effort to amend American history.
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