Friday, August 30, 2013

Fine Art Friday: Tom Loftin Johnson

Until five days ago, I'd never heard of Tom Loftin Johnson.

The other day I was playing around on Wikipedia, following one link to another, when I ran across this guy. Or rather, his painting, American Pieta. It is, in my opinion, incredible.

It was entered in the Carnegie International Art Contest in 1941. Had it not been for the war, American Pieta might have gone unnoticed, which I think would have been a terrible thing. However, there was a certain war going on, which meant there were only 5,000 entries in that International Art Contest, and American Pieta won. 

Traditionally, a Pieta is a depiction of Mary cradling the crucified Jesus in her arms. It's an ancient subject, dating back hundreds of years. The earliest Pieta I could find on the internet is a fresco painted in 1164. That's pretty old.

Tom Loftin Johnson's American Pieta is of an African American woman holding her son, who's been lynched. They're surrounded by five other people in various stages of grief or fear.

It's a terribly sad, horrendous image. And it's too true. And I love that Tom Loftin Johnson chose to paint that, of all pictures, in 1941. This was before the big civil rights movement, before white people had any "reason" to care at all about black people (not that people should need a reason to care about other people!). I love American Pieta. It bravely tells an unpopular truth.

Also it makes me think of my mom, because she's a history buff with a great passion for the Civil War and WWII eras, which means this painting is right up her alley. I miss my mom; being at college has greatly decreased the amount of time I get to spend with her. That's not cool. Not cool at all. But I'm going home for the weekend, which means I get to see her and the rest of my family (except my big sister) in just one or two hours! Woohoo!


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