The Dream of the Handicapped Woman: Escaping the Jungle

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Carpet, cloth, enamel, spray paint, and Splash Zone compound on canvas on wood
83 x 82 x 5 inches

The Dream of the Handicapped Woman links the overall struggle for life over death, truth over lies, beauty over ugliness, as universal questions, but shot out of the specific experience and life contradictions of Afro-America. What is the Dream of the Handicapped Woman? The rest of the title gives the answer (Escaping the Jungle). A jungle of swirling places & faces, events, revelations, understandings, in oppressive, exploitative relationships, caught and fixed here in this jungle of human misery, with its handicapped woman (read, any woman but especially the triply oppressed Black and Colored women, but all women since they suffer from gender oppression). But it is only the working-class women of color who suffer from class, national (race), and gender oppression.

Dial does make a special pleading for the Afro-American people, but it is always wound into or signifies about the whole people. The Black working-class male suffers from a double oppression by class and nationality, his white working-class comrade simply from class oppression. So that Dial invariably makes his sharpest thematic statements about the doubly and triply oppressed, but resonates about all exploitation, all oppression. Handicapped Woman is given depth with the brush techniques, texturing with cloth and tin and impasto which are one near trademark of Dial’s aesthetic. —Amiri Baraka