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Strange and Bitter American History

Catalog Data

Created by:
Juan Sánchez, American, born 1954  Search this
Subject of:
Unidentified Man or Men  Search this
Unidentified Woman or Women  Search this
Abel Meeropol, American, 1903 - 1986  Search this
Billie Holiday, American, 1915 - 1959  Search this
John Brown, American, 1800 - 1859  Search this
mixed media: oil paint and acrylic paint on wood panel
H x W x D: 74 × 72 × 2 in. (188 × 182.9 × 5.1 cm)
multimedia works
This is a mixed media collage by Juan Sánchez as a tribute to his ancestors. The collage is placed on a wood panel which was first laid with a gray, textured background. Covering the gray background are large, red circles, resembling blood drops or platelets. Inside each red circle is an image of Sánchez’s baby daughter crying.
In the center of the collage is a large and wide blue/green cross comprised of photographic postcards of lynchings. A thin, orange cross is layered over the larger cross. At the intersection of the cross is a dark blue frame with gold accents. Framed within is an inversed color U.S. flag – with a red canton and black and green stripes – and two eyes at the center. Multiple black oil pastel circles were drawn around the frame and intersection of the cross.
The top and bottom thirds of the collage contain lines of green handwritten text occasionally with blue text layered over. This handwritten text goes over the blue/green cross but doesn’t go past the black, oil pastel circles. At the top of the wood panel is the phrase “The strange and bitter crop of American culture” handwritten along the top border of the collage in green and blue against an orange strip. Underneath is handwritten green text with handwritten blue text overlayed. The blue text here are stanzas from “Strange Fruit,” the 1937 poem by Abel Meerpol and later sang by Billie Holiday. At the bottom third, the stanzas of “Strange Fruit” are handwritten in green. Overlayed in handwritten blue text are some of the final written words of abolitionist John Brown.
African American  Search this
Activism  Search this
Art  Search this
Christianity  Search this
Families  Search this
Lynching  Search this
Poetry  Search this
Race discrimination  Search this
Race relations  Search this
Religion  Search this
Slavery  Search this
United States History  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture purchased with funds provided by the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
© Juan Sánchez, Guariken Arts Inc
Permission required for use. Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Cries and Wounded Whispers
Visual Arts
Nuyorican Movement
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture