Which Prayer Ended Slavery?

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    Photo: Ron Lee/The Silver Factory
1988
Welded steel, wire, paint
58 x 50 x 21 Inches
Collection of
Souls Grown Deep Foundation
Description

While questioning tradition in The Comfort of Moses, Richard Dial indicts it in Which Prayer Ended Slavery?. Creating a composition in two registers perched on top of a metal chair seat, Dial presents in the lower section a Caucasian figure whipping a black, another African American being hanged, and a third in chains. Above this assembly of torture, degradation, and murder are kneeling figures in black and white. Although the title seems to be asking viewers to distinguish between prayers, it is impossible to judge whether desperate pleas or calm ritualistic actions are more effective and whether in fact they have been helpful since the effects of slavery persist. One might consider this work from the position of an agnostic who wonders if Christianity has served as a safety valve keeping African Americans enslaved.