My Chulluns

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
late 1950s
Oil on canvas
25.5 x 36 inches
Collection of
Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Bailey also made paintings that fused the traditions of the memory painting and the partisan political cartoon. One of these, My Chulluns, like the work crew’s song, asserts with playful accuracy of black right, albeit a facetious one, to possess the white in mimicry of the long-standing white desire to possess the black. He has taken the memory painting idyll and inserted two novel qualities—black authority over white, black word over all—to comment trenchantly on the definitional pretenses of words and images. Most important, he has sexualized the affair, thus staring down much more than the minstrel tradition (and much memory painting is also minstrelsy) by taking aim at the sexual impunities of the white patriarch.