Dr. Celeste-Marie Bernier will discuss the paintings, prints, photographs and drawings produced by Black U.S. artists who served as combat soldiers in World War I.
Despite experiencing widespread atrocities and difficulties, Black enlisted men fought against the odds not only to survive the horrors of war but also to tell their stories and their histories. Due to entrenched racist practices, only 20% of African American soldiers saw combat as the rest lived and died in conditions akin to slavery by working in exploitative labor battalions.
This talk will begin to engage with this barely documented, hidden history of Black heroism by showing all kinds of artworks – including paintings, sketches, photographs, prints, posters, portraits and public monuments – so that we can begin to recover this lost Black military experience. As World War I Black combat artist, Horace Pippin insisted, “I cannot forget suffering and I will not forget sunset.”
Celeste-Marie Bernier is an Associate Professor in Slavery Studies, African American Studies and Visual Culture at the University of Nottingham.
Nottingham Contemporary's public programme is jointly funded by Nottingham Trent University and The University of Nottingham.