This week is special for many reasons, as we honor and remember the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrate the second presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, and look ahead to Black History Month in February. To continue this theme, here’s a short, excellent video clip narrated by a Philadelphia school student, in honor of another great, but lesser-known Black American, Horace Pippin:
Now that our biography of Pippin, A Splash of Red, is available, Melissa Sweet and I have also launched a separate website dedicated solely to this book. On that site, we’ll be doing frequent blog posts about his early life in West Chester, Pennsylvania and in Goshen, NY, his experiences in the trenches of WWI, his combat injury and haunting war memories, and his self-rehabilitation through making wood-burnt panels and oil paintings.
Details from The End of War, Starting Home, which took him nearly three years to complete, can be seen in this video, and is part of the permanent collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Today, we know that Pippin would most certainly be diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) but in the 1920s and 30s, there was no help for veterans like him who’d witnessed, fought in, and somehow survived, the horrors of the “Great War.” Having returned to the U.S. with a nearly paralyzed right arm, Pippin faced his trauma by re-discovering his childhood love of drawing and painting. “The war brought out all the art in me” he said.
As a result, we have his artistic legacy, more than 140 paintings and wood-burnt panels, scattered throughout galleries and museums across the U.S., many of them in the greater Philadelphia area.