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Artwork of the Week

Artwork of the Week: February 6, 2023

Lady in Waiting
David Driskell (1931-2020), 'Lady in Waiting,' 1992, oil and encaustic on canvas, 44 ½ x 34 ½ inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of the John M. and Pauline N. Fife Collection of African American Art, 2014. © The Estate of David C. Driskell. Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York.

In honor of Black History Month!

David Driskell dedicated his career as an art historian, museum curator, and artist to diversifying the canon of art. Seeking to rectify the lack of awareness and representation of African American art, Driskell curated an exhibition titled “Two Centuries of Black American Art” in 1976, the first comprehensive survey of African American art. He similarly championed Asian, Asian American, Indigenous, and women artists as essential contributors to American art.

In Lady in Waiting, Driskell presents elements of both African and African American art evident in the loose and expressive brush strokes, vibrant colors, and intentionally abstract composition and figures. Near the top of the work, a woman’s face emerges from the tapestry of effervescent chroma; moving down the canvas, her neck, shoulders, arm, and hand become visible. Her bold figure suggests strength while the subject matter implies tenderness—a child’s face peers up at her to the left as she gathers an infant in her arms. She sits serene, composed, and regal, evoking the notion of a caring Madonna figure. In accordance with the title of the piece, this maternal figure lovingly waits on her children, attending to their every need.

Student Contributor: Erin Eastmond