January 17, 2022

Equality and Justice

        Every year, the day that we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and message should be a reminder that we are still woefully far from equality and justice, but at the same time, we still hope for it, and work for it, and dream of it, and demand it.  Here are a few block prints holding up that theme.
        First is “The Dreamer” by Steve A. Prince (USA).  I don’t have a lot of information about this particular piece, but I think King’s weariness makes a good reminder from so many of the images that show him looking strong and indomitable.  He was both.  And we all can be both, too.  Prince often makes epically large woodcuts, but the scale of the gouge marks in this image implies that it’s pretty small.  Nevertheless, it’s beautifully detailed.
        I don’t love today’s second portrait of King nearly as much, but I figured I’d share it anyway, because maybe you find it especially evocative and inspirational!   By Mervin Jules (USA, 1912-1994) it was made in the mid-to-late 1960s.  (Relief block prints of King are not as common as screen prints.  After all, it was the 60s…)
        Finally, a linocut not of King but of an archetypal African American woman by Elizabeth Catlett (USA/Mexico, 1915-2012).  
The title of the piece is what makes it especially appropriate to feature today: My right is a future of equality with other Americans.
        I’ll also direct you to a couple of previous posts with relevant images you may find inspiring: Keep Dreaming, and Bryan’s Songs.  If each of us can just keep plugging away the best we can at this whole issue of equality, justice, and loving our neighbors, we’ll get there eventually.

[Pictures: The Dreamer, wood block print by Steve A. Prince (Image from Atlanta Printmakers Studio);

Martin Luther King Jr., woodcut by Mervin Jules, c 1936-8 (Image from Amon Carter Museum of American Art);

My right is a future of equality with other Americans, color linocut by Elizabeth Catlett, 1947/1989 (Image from National Museum of African American History and Culture).]

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