A forgotten 19th century political artist inspires new work by alumnus Garland Martin Taylor.
August 2, 2013

Historic Discovery Prompts Alum’s New Work

On July 29 Chicago Tribune reporter Dawn Turner Trice highlighted artist Garland Martin Taylor (BA 2005, MA 2007) and the 19th-century black political artist that changed his creative direction. A year and a half ago, Taylor, a museum specialist at Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History, came across a drawing hidden within the museum’s archives bearing the unfamiliar signature of one Henry Lewis Jackson. Curious, Taylor researched the work, later identifying Lewis as an employee of the black weekly newspaper the Freeman and possibly the country's first black political cartoonist. "Newspaper editors were being lynched and jailed for articles challenging the status quo and Lewis took this enormous risk to make art," he says. Taylor is currently drafting a paper on Lewis’s work, a project that’s influenced his personal artistic production. During a series of presentations at Yale University in July, Taylor presented a functional grill depicting images of his 19th century ancestors. "I've tried to make everything in my work mean something. That's what I put into this grill,” Taylor says. “Art, as Lewis knew so well, is never just about style but meaning.“