The viewer might look at this photograph and wonder: What is the race or ethnicity of the person or family who lives with these objects? What would I think and feel about these people if l saw such caricatures displayed in their home? I think of my mother, who worked as a maid her entire life. What would she have thought if she had been required to dust these items every week in the home of her non-African American employer? The brilliance of Weems’s quiet domestic photograph is that it disquiets the viewer. It stimulates each person who looks closely to reflect on how, even today, in small, routine ways, each of us could be readily accepting, living with, sustaining, or perpetuating an historical, social, or cultural idea that is an icon of the disturbing aftermath of a peculiar American institution.
Alvin D. Hall, Class of 1974
Help us make our collections more accessible by providing keywords to describe this artwork. The BCMA uses the
Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus to
provide consistent keywords. Enter a keyword in the field below and you will be prompted with a list of possible matching AAT preferred terms.