Joseph Paul Vorst (1897-1947), Family on Horse Drawn Cart, no date, oil on board, 32 ¼ x 32 ¼ inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Joyce and George Hill, 2020.
In Honor of Black History Month German-American artist Joseph Vorst escaped the unsettling political landscape of Europe, but he arrived in the Unites States during the Depression in 1930. Inspired by the Regionalist style popularized by artists like Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, Vorst began capturing scenes of everyday American life. This painting, a new acquisition for the museum, depicts an African American family riding in a wagon to attend church, a building just visible at the top of the hill. Dressed in their Sunday best, they pass the gas pumps on the left, an indication of changing times and newer technologies that they cannot yet afford. As an immigrant and especially one with German origins during the 1930s and 40s, Vorst regularly faced challenges and prejudice; because of these experiences, he often identified with those who were down-trodden, oppressed, and underprivileged. His scenes of African Americans are particularly compelling and sympathetic.