One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Works

By Ashley Chan

An integral component of African history was brought to life by a little bit of paint and a talented mind. The Museum of Modern Art features the radiant works of Jacob Lawrence who created the paintings when he was just 23 years old. His paintings take you on a journey through the new-found hardships and struggles African-Americans faced when they moved to the urban life up in the north from where they originally lived in the countryside down south.

From 1940 to 1941, Lawrence created a series of 60 small tempera paintings based on what came to be known as the Great Migration. Each painting came with its own text caption that briefly described what happened during the mass movement of African Americans from the South to the North, beginning around 1915 and lasting for decades. Lawrence uses the same colors in all of his paintings. Strokes of orange, dark green, brown, black, white, dark yellow and faded blue all provoke a warm sensation when combined or put together on the same canvas which aids in conveying the story of the past. Lawrence’s 60 panels of beautifully painted artwork is on display from April 3 to September 7, 2015 on the third floor of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

The Migration Series isn’t the only impressive exhibit on display in the museum as other migration stories from the same era created from different artists, writers and poets, are showcased as well. The different works comprise the story of the Great Migration. Visiting the exhibit is an educational, culturally enriching, and fun experience to share with friends. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about history in a less rigid and textbook oriented environment.

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