Barbara Earl Thomas
The Geography of Innocence
- PUBLISHED: November 2021
- SUBJECT LISTING: Art History / African American Art, African American Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 80 Pages, 8.5 x 10 in, 30 color illus.
- ISBN: 9780932216786
- Publisher: Seattle Art Museum
Barbara Earl Thomas’s new body of work carries within it the sediments of history and grapples with race and the color line. At the heart of it lies a story of life and death, hope and resilience—a child’s survival. With her quietly glowing portraits of young Black boys and girls, Thomas puts before us the humble question: can we see, and be present to, the humanity, the trust, the hopes and dreams of each of these children?
The Geography of Innocence offers a reexamination of Black portraiture and the preconceived dichotomies of innocence and guilt and sin and redemption, and the ways in which these notions are assigned and distorted along cultural and racial lines. Two interconnected visual arguments unfold: a portrait gallery of children from the artist’s extended community and an illuminated environment that appears like a delicate paper lantern. To accompany the visual elements, the book’s essays examine Thomas’s work in the context of different art historical portraiture traditions and political relevance. Thomas also contributes an interview and an essay reflecting on the current climate in which the work exists.
Authors & Contributors
Catharina Manchanda is Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum. Halima Taha is an adjunct faculty member at Bloomfield College. Barbara Earl Thomas is a Seattle-based artist whose work has been widely exhibited throughout the United States.