Block Party: The African-American Art of Archibald Motley

Archibald Motley painted African Americans having a good time. Archibald Motley (1891–1981) was born in New Orleans and lived and painted in Chicago most of his life. But because his subject was African-American life, he’s counted by scholars among the artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Many of Motley’s favorite scenes were inspired by good times[…]

Charles Darwin’s Effect on Charles Loring Brace and 19th-Century Social Reform

The evolution of a reformer. Sometimes a book can change a life. In December 1859, a copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Speciesarrived from across the Atlantic and almost immediately began to change the lives of those who read it. The book was addressed to Asa Gray, the Harvard botanist who soon became Darwin’s most influential[…]

Sacred Street Theater in Medieval England

Doomsday, 1433. In York, after dark. A red curtain. Painted stars. Actors in hoses, wigs, and two-faced masks—some in angel wings, some with trumpets. Wooden clouds and pieces of rainbow, and an iron frame with pulleys meant to effect Christ’s movements between Heaven and Earth. a “hell mouth” billowing smoke and the smell of sulfur.[…]