This week’s Time Magazine cover is a painting by New Haven artist Titus Kaphar created in response to the killing of George Floyd.
The painting, Analogous Colors, is powerful -- a black mother, eyes closed, holds her child close to her body. But Kaphar cuts the image of the child out of the canvas, revealing a mother holding the empty silhouette of her baby.
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In a piece Kaphar wrote to accompany the painting, he states, “In her expression, I see the Black mothers who are unseen, and rendered helpless in this fury against their babies.”
Another one of Titus Kaphar’s paintings made the cover of Time in 2014. Yet Another Fight for Remembrance depicted people protesting the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Kaphar lives and works in New Haven and has made a career of exploring the history of racism and slavery in America. Take, for instance, his 2014 painting Behind the Myth of Benevolence. The work is really a painting within a painting -- a neoclassical painting of Thomas Jefferson is pulled aside like a curtain, revealing the image of an African American woman, presumably a slave.
In an NPR interview, shortly after receiving a prestigious MacArthur “genius” grant in 2018, Kaphar said that in the painting he literally wanted to pull back the curtain on “these illusions, these stories that we tell ourselves about the Founding Fathers.”
“I don’t think that pretending like it didn’t happen is beneficial,” said Kaphar. "I think it is, in fact, damaging. I think if we are not honest about our past, then we cannot have a clear direction towards our future.”