The slavery in America that marked the worst face and scenarios of human torture of the citizens of Africa is a source of literature and art. These literary pieces not just describe slavery and the lives of slaves but also depict various themes of identity and culture (of the Africans, which was lost and tortured).
Northeastern University’s Gallery 360 displays the works of artist Joseph Holston’s “Color in Freedom”. It consists of more than four dozen paintings that depict the troublesome history of slavery in America. It shows the experience of the Africans when they were transported to America through the Middle passage and the Underground Railroad as slaves. He uses tone and color to depict the journey and reflect upon the emotional journey from captivation to freedom.
Barry Gaither, the Executive Director of the National Center for Afro-American artists, says that the artist’s job is to reimagine history, make and compel the readers to believe and experience the lives lived by the slaves. “You’re called upon, whenever you make art, to reimagine something and take it out of every day, ordinary life and package it up in a new story” says Gaither.
The work of Holston was accompanied by a performance by a dance troupe led by Jacqui Parker. She took up the task of renewing and converting Holston’s painting into a theatrical performance.
The exhibition not just projects the situation of slavery but the life of individual beings who were separated from their families, treated as commodities, and were transported as slaves to a more powerful and dominant nation. They emit, through their literature, the culture and the identity crisis that they and their future generation faced. The acceptance of the ‘foreign’, a wish to be accepted by the whites degraded the sense of their native culture. They were physically slaves but were also mentally ruled by the dominant white culture.