A Dream

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    Photo: Ron Lee/The Silver Factory
Paint on metal medicine cabinet
31 x 22.75 x 5.75 inches
Collection of
High Museum of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

What the viewer gets from one of Doyle's artworks is not always what the viewer at first sees. A piece that appears to be a straight-forward tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for example, may well contain veiled messages. Above the head of Dr. King is a table around which are seated people of four skin colors, yellow, white, red, and brown. Above them are the words "A Dream." So the message—that Dr. King has a dream of peaceful co-existence among all races-is clear. Or is it? Is King's dream a vision, or is it a fantasy, illusionary? Or does Doyle have something else in mind? The word Dream is broken down to read "DR E AM." Dr. E is the nickname of Dr. Eagle. Could "AM" be read as "IS"? Dr. Eagle IS! Doyle may have seen King as the ultimate conjureman-healer, performing his magic in an area where no black man had succeeded before. If this is Doyle's intention, he completes the analogy by painting Dr. King and his vision/illusion on the interior of an old medicine cabinet. But wait. Dr. Eagle is a white root doctor, and can conjure whites, too. Can King do the same? And consider the four cartoonlike figures who form King's "dream": the black participant, at one end of the table, is pure caricature; the yellow man faces the viewer with his cliched inscrutable smile; the white man, at the end of the table opposite the black man, has his mouth turned downward—no friend he; and the red man sits with his back to a world that has no idea how he looks or what he is thinking. Whatever these diners are eating, the white man clearly has the most on his plate, the black the least.