Platemark: 22.8 x 20.4 cm (9 x 8 1/16 in.); Sheet: 27.7 x 21.7 cm (10 7/8 x 8 9/16 in.)
Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland 1943.244
With a fellow artist, William E. Smith went on to found the first gallery specifically devoted to African American art in Los Angeles after World War II.
African American artist William E. Smith was affiliated with the Karamu House in Cleveland in the 1930s. Karamu House, which still thrives today, is one of the oldest African American theaters and art educational institutions in the United States. This work is indicative of the artist’s desire to bring the struggles of the Black community to broader public visibility during the Depression. In the print, the man’s utter inactivity suggests not only his economic despair but also the psychological and social alienation that accompanies unemployment. Smith created a dramatic mood in the image through a stark tonal contrast produced using a linoleum block, a readily available material that could be carved much like a wood block.
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