Titus Kaphar, The Cost of Removal, 2017, oil, canvas, and rusted nails on canvas, 108 x 84 x 1 1/2 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2017.20. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.
What do you think influenced the artist to create such a portrait?
What do you think this artist is trying to say with this artwork? What is the meaning or message? How might the inclusion of rusted nails and a ripped document help express this point?
Titus Kaphar investigates historical subjects and national monuments through the lens of current events to call attention to who and how we choose to memorialize or forget.
In The Cost of Removal, Kaphar draws upon Ralph Earl’s 1833 painting Andrew Jackson on Sam Patch to highlight issues of forced migration and our nation’s current political climate. In Kaphar’s work, Jackson’s body is obscured from the nose down by torn strips of canvas with Jackson’s own writings weighing the costs of removing Native Americans from their lands. While president, Jackson signed the document that led to the Trail of Tears, the forced migration of Southeastern tribes to lands west of the Mississippi River, which resulted in the death of thousands. The nails reference African fetish objects in which the number of nails indicate the number of people who put their faith in that particular object.
How does studying primary documents, like the ones referenced in this artwork, support the research of actual events?
Is the fact that an action has been determined to be constitutional mean that that action is necessarily just or right?
How do you respond when you experience or see injustice? How can people hold government branches accountable for injustices?
Exhibition sponsored by Kenneth C. Griffin
Learning and engagement programming for We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy is sponsored by:
Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates, & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. | Johnny and Jeanie Morris, Bass Pro Shops | Alturas Foundation | Harriet and Warren Stephens, Stephens Inc. | Sotheby’s | Bob and Becky Alexander | Marybeth and Micky Mayfield | Lamar and Shari Steiger | Jeff and Sarah Teague / Citizens Bank | Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities | Avis and Bill Bailey | Scarlett and Neff Basore | June Carter Family | Terri and Chuck Erwin | Jackye and Curtis Finch | The Harrison and Rhonda French Family | Jim and Susan von Gremp | Laurice Hachem | Shannon and Charles Holley | Valorie and Randy Lawson / Lawco Energy Group | Donna and Mack McLarty | Steve and Susan Nelson | Neal and Gina Pendergraft | Helen Porter | JT and Imelda Rose | Lee and Linda Scott | Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Catherine and Michael Mayton, Trustees | William Reese Company