A Special & Timely Offer from HEMPHILL Artworks

Friday June 26, 2020

Below please find this unique opportunity from HEMPHILL Artworks to begin or add to your art collection at cost that’s below the typical price point for prints at this level of quality:

Now more than ever we are making an extra effort to invigorate the vital relationship between you and the artist. We are publishing prints by gallery artists. To make your participation as easy as possible we are offering the prints at very special prices. It is not our goal to profit but, at best, to break even. Our ambition is to activate your engagement for the intrinsic benefit of art.

The first print is by Rushern Baker IV. Please stay tuned for subsequent prints by Steven Cushner, Colby Caldwell, Anne Rowland, and other gallery artists.

Rushern Baker’s print is available for $450 (shipping included). A portion of the proceeds from sales of this artwork will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Founded in 1940, the NAACP LDF is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm.


Artist Statement:

The 54th Massachusetts Regiment, formed by a reluctant President Lincoln after much encouragement from Frederick Douglass, was the first African American regiment to see combat during the Civil War. The regiment was composed not only of free men from the northern states, but also escapees from the south. Sergeant William H. Carney, a formerly enslaved person from Virginia, served in the regiment and went on to become the first African American recipient of the Medal of Honor due to his heroism during The Battle of Fort Wagner. The regiment and their well-publicized bravery in battle paved the way for future African Americans serving in the United States Armed Services.

I remember having a reproduction of the original Kurz & Allison lithograph depicting the 1863 Battle of Fort Wagner hanging up in my bedroom as a kid, and being in awe of these black men in their Union uniforms. The image depicts the moment the 54th Regiment stormed the walls of the fort and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Confederate soldiers. I couldn’t comprehend the violence at the time, but saw in them my paternal and maternal grandfathers, both military veterans who escaped the Jim Crow South through military service. They both truly believed in the promise of this country, and flew the American flag proudly outside their homes. My father, a retired Captain in the U.S. Army and history major in undergrad, would drag our entire family around to Civil War battle sites as a kid. His fascination with our nation’s history, and more specifically the Civil War, was certainly not lost on me.

My practice often involves combing through old newspaper clippings, propaganda posters, and historic prints and reproductions. Recently I have been drawn to Civil War lithographs and they have begun to creep into my work in various ways. I used the Kurz and Allison image of the 54th as a jumping off point for a series of compositional drawings for this print, 54th Massachusetts. I intentionally place the focus on the Black bodies sacrificing their lives for the American Flag, and defending the ideals of freedom and democracy not yet afforded to them.

This print emphasizes my belief in the cyclical nature of historic events and how the past always shines light on the present. When looking at the year 2020 through the lens of that chasm in US history, arguably the most violent and schismatic, it is tragically clear that we have not truly come to grips with the lingering ramifications of our nation’s split and tenuous reunification. This is an ongoing investigation for me, and this print marks a point for further research into these themes.”

Rushern Baker IV, June 2020


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