June 19th, is now the 12th federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.
It is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.
As we reflect on this holiday and this wonderful and federally sanctioned celebration, we think of the artist, Purvis Young and his social and political artistic commentary on the civil rights and urban violence.
Purvis Young (1943 - 2010)
Battle for Freedom, Circa 1990
Paint on panel with wood frame
48 x 35 in
Metaphysical confrontations of supernatural spirits, demons and angles have battled in the heavens and in the depths of hell, fighting over humans’ well-being. And yet man’s physical altercations in the 1950’s and 60’s Civil Rights movement protests illustrate that the war between good and evil has been with us in many forms for over a millennium. There will always be the do-gooders- yellow figures, as well as the harsh and terrible troublemakers- black silhouettes, fighting over mankind; each with their own agenda. The constant resurrection of goodness, not that of viciousness and evil, speaks the deepest truth about our world and our lives. It is said that good always triumphs over evil. Capturing a biblical war, the painting evokes a classic renaissance aesthetic. Evocative of “The Triumph of the Genius of Destruction” by, Mihály Zichy, painted in 1878 the “Battle for Freedom” by Young has a similar struggle being portrayed. With affixed found objects as sidebar comments on the gestalt of the painting’s meaning, the pool of blood on the bottom part of the painting continues to rise as the slaughter persists. However, it does appear the good, once again has the upper hand as mankind is again on the precipice of peril.
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