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Celebration

1975 Charles Searles Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1937 Died: NY, New York 2004 acrylic on canvas 27 1/2 x 81 3/4 in. (70.0 x 207.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the General Services Administration, Art-in-Architecture Program 1977.47.31 Not currently on view


Exhibition Label

In 1974, Searles was invited to paint a mural for the William J. Green Jr. Federal Building in his hometown of Philadelphia. Celebration, a study for that mural, fuses the energy of an American street festival with memories of Searles’s 1972 trip to Nigeria. The canvas is filled with syncopated color, the echoing forms of circular drumheads, and the waving arms of dancers. Searles suggests the duality of the human psyche by dividing the figures vertically into light and dark sections. At the bottom center, he included a child with a masklike face and spiky hair in homage to his young daughter, who died in 1971.


African Amerian Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, 2012

Keywords

Ceremony - festival

Ethnic - African-American

Landscape - time - sunrise

Performing arts - music - drum

Recreation - dancing

Study - mural study

General Services Administration - Art-in-Architecture Program

painting

paint - acrylic

fabric - canvas