The Lincoln Portraits
Wolfe painted two portraits of President Lincoln in 1962 during the intense activism of the civil rights movement. Both were widely acclaimed in the United States and abroad. Lincoln is portrayed standing in one painting, and seated in the other. They are entitled “Witness - 1962 (The Standing Lincoln)” and “Witness - 1962 (The Seated Lincoln.” In both Lincoln is given his own life size.
At the time Wolfe wrote:
“The Lincoln is meant to be a contemporary presence - to stand in our time, one hundred years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and to witness white America still denying the Negro his freedom.. And so, this painting is also meant to confront its viewers.”
Black Voice - Freedom Summer 1964
The “Freedom Summer” campaign by civil rights volunteers, the so-called “Freedom Riders,” attempted to democratically overturn the southern Jim Crow laws that deprived black Americans of their right to vote. It was in large measure an effective effort. It helped to lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations and to the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Sadly, it was an endeavor that met with violent resistance that included the murders of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney (three civil rights workers who were attempting to register black people to vote in the Southern states), and the beatings of countless others. The “Freedom Riders” were subjected to over 1000 arrests and 70 churches and stores and homes that hosted them were burned or bombed. “Black Voice” is an expression of the anguish and heroism of that important period in the history of America’s ongoing effort to achieve true equality.
Most of the images were taken from current mass media. The large face is Marion Anderson. Other figures include demonstrators holding hands; police dogs used to control crowds; a “Southerner” (Ku Klux Klanner) reading a newspaper; small KKK figures in white burning the cross; protesters; a man carrying an injured woman; Medgar Evers, and the funerals of Goodwin, Schwerner and Chaney with their coffins and funeral processions.