There are very clear parallels to the world in which John Brown was navigating leading up to the American Civil War. It’s a world where violence was wrongly justified, and the fractionalization of society led to ever-escalating civil unrest. It was a time of drastic societal change, and that interests me. Speaking more generally, I am drawn to moments in history when there was a spontaneous combustion of revolutionary political activity. Maybe not so much your textbook definition of a revolution, but rather revolutionary acts that changed the direction of human history. The world shifted and changed in a traceable way. – Rush Baker IV
The vibrant, energetic paintings of Maryland-based Rush Baker IV invite the viewer into the revolution, exploring current social justice issues through historical events like the abolitionist John Brown’s Harper Ferry Raid in 1859. Silhouetted figures appear throughout Baker’s canvas, drawn from the illustrations published in newspapers depicting Brown’s capture of the nation’s armory and arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, with the hopes that the arsenal would be used to arm and free the enslaved people of Virgina and ultimately the entire South. Baker’s process begins with historical imagery that is layered under plaster and paint, sanded away and then repeated. Baker has exhibited nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at Scaramouche Gallery and The Cooper Union, New York; and Honfleur Gallery, Washington DC, and in group shows at The Third Line Gallery, Dubai; The Harvey B. Gantt Center, Charlotte; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Brooklyn; Koki Arts, Tokyo; and Yale University.