From the Executive Director

From the Executive Director
June 2, 2020


It is with a shared sense of grief, anger, compassion, and frustration that we extend our wish for safety and equality to the black community today and always. Art can play a crucial role in creating change and transforming beliefs. Art increases empathy, offers new perspectives of our world, and provides a safe space for prompting difficult conversations. Boise Art Museum is committed to doing our part to support racial equity in our nation. We must imagine and create a better world together.
“If at times my productions do not express the conventionally beautiful, there is always an effort to express the universal beauty of man’s continuous struggle to lift his social position and to add dimension to his spiritual being.”  Jacob Lawrence 1
Jacob Lawrence
(1917 Atlantic City, NJ – 2000 Seattle, WA)


Jacob Lawrence is the most widely acclaimed African American artist of this century. His artworks feature prominently in standard American art history books. Lawrence’s paintings portray the lives and struggles of African Americans. He is one of the few painters of his generation who grew up in a black community and was taught primarily by black artists. A social realist, Lawrence documented the African American experience in several series devoted to Toussaint L’Ouverture, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, life in Harlem, and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. His work continues to carry great meaning today.
Lawrence, Jacob, The 1920s..the Migrants Cast Their Ballots
Jacob Lawrence, The 1920’s…The Migrants Cast Their Ballots, 1974
silkscreen, edition 64/125, 32” x 24-7/8”, Collection of the Boise Art Museum


This screen print is part of a series in which the artist addressed the history of African Americans who had migrated to the North in great numbers between the 1920s and the 1940s. The 1920’s…The Migrants Cast Their Ballots shows black people exercising the right to vote. Lawrence was interested in portraying the vibrancy of everyday life and the humanity and dignity of the people. Lawrence said, “Migration means movement. There was conflict and struggle. But out of the struggle came a kind of power and even beauty. ‘And the migrants kept coming’ is a refrain of triumph over adversity.”


Melanie Fales
Executive Director/CEO
Boise Art Museum

1 Jacob Lawrence quoted in Ellen Harkins Wheat, Jacob Lawrence: The Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman Series of 1938-40 (Hampton, Va.: Hampton University Museum; Seattle: in association with University of Washington Press, 1991), n.p.

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