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Her hair is covered while her partially shown shoulder and leg are bare. “This painting is about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, and yet it is not,” Kaphar said.“The reason I say, ‘And yet it is not,’ is because we know from the actual history that Sally Hemings was very fair. The woman who sits here is not just simply a representation of Sally Hemings, she’s more of a symbol of many of the black women whose stories have been shrouded by the narratives of our deified founding fathers.” “This painting is about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, and yet it is not.When they did, their appearance was most often alongside the white male subject or often in the background, serving to confirm the power and status of the main sitter.Co-organized by Asma Naeem, the museum’s curator of Prints, Drawing and Media Arts, and Taína Caragol, curator of Painting and Sculpture and Latino Art and History, “Un Seen” is the National Portrait Gallery’s first anniversary exhibition to feature work by contemporary artists.…The woman who sits here is not just simply a representation of Sally Hemings, she’s more of a symbol of many of the black women whose stories have been shrouded by the narratives of our deified founding fathers.” — Titus Kaphar Based in New Haven, Conn., Kaphar makes paintings in the style of Classic and Renaissance portraiture.Defined by physical manipulation, his work literally reconstructs accepted narratives.As an art form, portraiture affirmed social standing.Few women and people of color appeared in portraits.
“We’ve been working together for four years on this project and this is a lot of thinking about not just is missing.
| Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.
Copyright 2017, Ken Gonzales-Day, all rights reserved LOS ANGELES-BASED GONZALES-DAY mines museum archives and photographs sculptural objects most of them rarely, if ever, displayed publicly.
The Jefferson portrait hangs in a gallery alongside paintings of Andrew Jackson, Christopher Columbus, and Thaddeus Stephens (1792-1868), the congressman from Pennsylvania, who had a common law relationship with his widowed housekeeper, a “mixed-race” woman named Lydia Hamilton Smith (1815-1884).
In his portrait of Stephens, Kaphar concentrates on his eyes.
I’ve looked up the genealogies of all of these individuals going back as far as I could.