Aaron Douglas and Arthur Schomnburg
Aaron Douglas completed this four-panel mural, entitled Aspects of Negro Life, in 1934 through the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP). At the time, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture was the 135th Street branch of The New York Public Library.
A leading artist of the Harlem Renaissance, Douglas painted these murals to reflect African and African American history, the African American present, and his vision of a promising future. According to the Treasures of The New York Public Library website, “Among his best-known works, the four panels of Aspects of Negro Life are characteristic of Douglas’s style, with graphically incisive motifs and the dynamic incorporation of such influences as African sculpture, jazz music, dance, and abstract geometric forms. One of the murals, Song of the Towers, depicts a figure fleeing from the hand of serfdom. It is symbolic of the migration of African peoples from the rural South and the Caribbean to the urban industrial centers of the North just after World War I. Standing on the wheel of life in the center of the composition, a saxophonist expresses the creativity of the 1920s and the freedom it afforded the ‘New Negro.'” The panels are subtitled, The Negro in an African Setting, Song of the Towers, From Slavery to Reconstruction, An Idyll of the Deep South.
Project originally submitted by Charles Swaney on April 19, 2016.
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