A selection of recent work by Brooklyn-based artist Hilary Harkness. Through her painting practice, Harkness reimagines histories that comment on sociocultural forces with a contemporary revisionist sensibility. Her earlier paintings focused on the World War II era, and her newest body of work, “The Arabella Freeman Series,” is an ongoing episodic project. Now represented by P.P.O.W. Gallery, the series was conceived as part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Copyist Program, in which Harkness began transforming Winslow Homer’s iconic Civil War era painting, Prisoners from the Front, 1866, by changing the race of one of the figures to a Black Union soldier.
“With that as a genesis, I began to realize that changing the race of one character wasn’t such a simple tweak,” Harkness explains. “How would this be possible, given the history and laws put into place to prevent Black wealth, freedom, and citizenship? My questions generated more questions. I read, I wrote, I painted, trying to make sense of the world as it was in order to paint it as I wanted it to be. This series presents an alternative narrative centered around an enduring relationship between Homer’s protagonist, Union General Barlow, and a fictitious, free Virginia landowning African-American family, the Freemans.”
See more from Hilary Harkness below!